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“Will Abortion Hurt, Physically or Emotionally?”

This question, “Will abortion hurt physically or emotionally?” is a fair one to ask.  Hard as this may be to accept, nobody can tell you what your abortion experience will feel like with any degree of certainty.  Many people find it challenging to predict their own physical or emotional reaction.  And yet, asking questions like this before moving forward can be valuable.  It’s wise to carefully consider this decision.  If you’re wondering whether an abortion would hurt physically or emotionally, you’re already in the process of preparing for your best outcome.

Nobody knows the future, but understanding the risks and possibilities of your pregnancy options will help guide your path.  Even if this doesn’t produce clear answers, the process of question-asking and information-gathering will likely lead to greater insight.  Avenue Women’s Center exists to help persons access the education and support they need to step into a pregnancy decision with confidence.  We provide free, confidential early pregnancy services to anyone who walks through our doors or connects with us virtually.

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Does Abortion Involve Physical Pain?

Let’s look to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for clarity.  If you’re considering a medication or surgical abortion, it may be difficult to predict if the procedure will involve physical pain and how much it will hurt.  The effects vary between women.  It’s important to understand that abortion procedures may look different depending on how far along a woman is too.  There are a lot of unique factors involved that may impact an individual’s pain level overall.  Let’s take a look at some physical symptoms that may occur after different types of abortion.

First-trimester medication abortion.

This method typically involves taking two different medications (mifepristone and misoprostol) to end a pregnancy.  Misoprostol causes the uterus to empty, triggering cramping and bleeding.  In some cases, the bleeding can be heavy and the cramping severe.

First-trimester procedural abortion.

Most often, vacuum aspiration or suction curettage is the surgical method used at this stage.  A vacuum aspiration begins with the placement of a speculum to hold the vagina open.  A numbing medication may be given, then the cervix is opened using medication or dilators.  The pregnancy is removed using a vacuum pump and sometimes a tool called a curette.  Soreness and cramping for a few days should be expected after the procedure.  It’s normal for bleeding and spotting to last several weeks.

Second-trimester procedural abortion.

Once the cervix is dilated, a suction device and tools may be used together to remove the contents of the uterus.  It’s normal to experience soreness and cramping for a few days, and bleeding and spotting for several weeks.

Second-trimester induction abortion (medication abortion).

Medications are taken which cause the uterus to contract and expel.  This may take 12-24 hours.  This method is usually completed at a hospital or clinic.

Certain pain medications, antibiotics, and anesthesia may be used in some cases.  Abortion is generally considered to be a safe practice, but risks like incomplete abortion and infection do occur.  It’s very important to know the risks before getting an abortion.  Keep in mind that you may experience uncomfortable physical symptoms like nausea or fever in addition to pain.  Because all these factors are present, and because your health needs are unique, seeing a medical professional before having an abortion is key!  Be sure to follow up with a doctor afterward to protect your health and make sure the procedure was effective.

*Abortion laws vary from state to state and are subject to change.  Some states do not authorize abortion services.  Be sure to check your state’s regulations to understand the legal factors involved.

Does Abortion Involve Emotional Pain?

Post-abortion emotional symptoms may be even more complex and unpredictable than physical ones.  Although physical and emotional pain are two very different experiences, in some cases, emotional pain is the most impactful and long-lasting.  Some people report feeling emotionally stable during and after an abortion, while others experience symptoms of post-abortion stress, like depression, grief, and regret.  As with physical pain, there are many factors involved, including (but not limited to) a person’s reasons for ending a pregnancy, her values and beliefs, her past experiences, and her support system.

Some people may find it helpful to speak with someone they trust who’s had an abortion in the past to gain insight before a decision is made.  However, it’s important to remember that every individual’s emotional response to an abortion is unique.  The same person might even feel differently about two separate abortion experiences.

Knowing how to talk about all this can be challenging because abortion can be a publicly controversial subject as well as a private, personal experience.  Yet, it’s important for every person to explore the possibilities while receiving the support she needs to find her own best path.  If you need to process the possibility of abortion with someone, and get information that’s accurate and neutral, Avenue Women’s Center is here to help.  We offer a safe space to ask questions.  We’ll receive your questions with kindness and professionalism, never judgment.

Reach out to schedule an appointment today!  Our limited medical clinics are located in Darien, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn / Lombard, Naperville, West Chicago, and Wood Dale, Illinois.



The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).  (2022, August).  FAQs: Abortion Care.  Retrieved from:

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.