When experiencing a pregnancy, many things can happen to your body due to hormonal changes. Even when you go through an abortion, you may experience the lingering effects of pregnancy for a few days or weeks after taking the abortion pills. Rest assured that your body will normalize to its baseline with time, but in the meantime, it is important to know what to expect.
Different people will react differently to both pregnancy and the abortion pill, so the post-abortion experience will vary from person to person. However, one of the things you may wonder about is your period after an abortion. This article will discuss pregnancy and the abortion pill and how they may affect menstruation.
How does pregnancy affect my period?
Before diving into abortion and your period, let’s first discuss how pregnancy can influence your period. Your menstrual cycle is a key thing to consider when it comes to getting pregnant. A normal cycle lasts anywhere from 23 to 35 days, with the average being 28 days. The menstrual cycle begins at the time that your period starts, and this is known as the “menses phase.”
After your period, you transition into the follicular phase, where your ovaries’ follicles begin to grow and develop into an egg. Ovulation occurs around day 14, when the ovary releases the egg. This is the most fertile period of time. Finally, in the luteal phase, the egg travels to the uterine tubes. If fertilized, it continues its journey and implants into the lining of the uterus (1).
When conception occurs and you get pregnant, your menstrual cycle changes. Pregnancy changes your hormone levels to prepare your body to sustain and develop the pregnancy. These changes stop your period and ovulation, and your body shifts to preparations involving pregnancy and breastfeeding. Therefore, you will not get your period while you are pregnant.
How does an abortion affect my period?
Abortions terminate a pregnancy. Therefore, if you are no longer pregnant, your period should eventually return. Your period will come back and normalize, but when that happens will vary from person to person.
Abortion initiates the beginning of a new menstrual cycle. Ovulation can occur as soon as eight days after an abortion, and menstruation will eventually follow 14 days after. Therefore, after an abortion, your period will usually return within three to four weeks, depending on the person.
How does contraception affect my period after an abortion?
When your period comes back after an abortion is dependent upon what birth control you are on, if any. If you are not on hormonal birth control, your period will likely return within eight weeks of the abortion. Certain types of birth control, like an intrauterine device (IUD), may affect your period. Sometimes, an IUD causes less frequent or lighter periods. Therefore, if you had an IUD inserted after the abortion, you may not get a period or it may be lighter than usual.
However, if you are not on hormonal birth control and your period has not returned within eight weeks, you might want to contact your health-care provider (2).
Is the bleeding definitely my period?
It is very common to experience bleeding after undergoing an abortion. Although some may mistake it for a period, the presentation will be very different. Abortion-related bleeding will be very heavy, with clotting. The amount of blood and clotting will depend on the gestation age of the pregnancy. Most often, the longer the gestation period, the more bleeding is to be expected. This type of bleeding, along with spotting, can persist for a few days or weeks after taking the pill. However, you may experience symptoms similar to a normal period, such as pain and cramping (2). When you do get your period again after an abortion, it will likely resemble that of a normal period.
Is there a chance I could still be pregnant?
The abortion pill is a very effective method when it comes to terminating a pregnancy. In fact, it can be up to 99% effective depending on where you are in the pregnancy and how many pills were taken (3). Thus, if following safe2choose’s recommendations based on the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, it is highly unlikely that you are still pregnant.
If it has been eight weeks and you still have not gotten your period, reach out to your health-care provider or seek out abortion counseling. In the unlikely event that you are still pregnant, you can re-evaluate other safe abortion methods available to you.
Both pregnancy and abortion can change your hormones, causing certain bodily changes and affecting your period. However, it is important to know that these changes are temporary, and your body will return to baseline with time.
With regards to your menstrual cycle, your period should return within four to eight weeks of the abortion. However, your period may look different if you began hormonal birth control. For example, it may be heavier or occur less frequently if you have an IUD. If you have any concerns surrounding your period after abortion or abortion in general, seek abortion counseling by getting in touch with our counseling team.
- “Menstrual Cycle.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10132-menstrual-cycle. Accessed June 2023.\
- “What can I expect after having an in-clinic abortion?” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/abortion/in-clinic-abortion-procedures/what-can-i-expect-after-having-an-in-clinic-abortion. Accessed June 2023.
- “The Abortion Pill.” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/abortion/the-abortion-pill. Accessed June 2023.