Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

What to Expect during a Safe Abortion

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 15: Abortion and Complications from Abortion > What to Expect during a Safe Abortion


Safe abortions, especially abortions by suction (MVA), are done in both health centers and hospitals. An abortion by scraping (D and C) is usually done in a hospital. An abortion by medicine should be done at a health center or hospital that also has equipment to do MVAs and D and Cs, and health workers trained to do them. For more information about how these abortions are done, see "Safe Methods of Abortion."

a health worker sitting at a table talking with another woman

Drink plenty of liquids the day before you have an abortion. This will help you recover more quickly.

When you go to a health center or hospital for an abortion, you should be welcomed and treated with respect. A counselor should talk with you about your decision and explain how the abortion will be done and what the risks are.

The information below tells what to expect from a safe abortion. An abortion that is very different from this could be dangerous.

a woman lying on a table while a health worker examines her genitals
  • You should be asked about the time of your last monthly bleeding and whether you might have an STI.
  • A health worker should do a medical exam. This includes feeling carefully in your vagina and on your belly for the size of your womb.
  • During both abortion by suction and by scraping you will feel strong pains in the lower belly. But soon after the abortion is over, the pains will become less strong.
  • After the abortion, your genitals should be cleaned, and then you should be taken to rest. A health worker should be there to check you for about an hour.
  • Someone should tell you what to do after the abortion,
    the danger signs to watch for, and who to contact if you have a complication.


In addition, someone should discuss family planning methods with you. You can start using a method the day of the abortion. You should be given an appointment to come back for a check-up in 1 or 2 weeks.


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