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After an Abortion

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It is normal for a woman to experience a range of emotions after an abortion. Any pregnancy option that you choose, whether it is abortion, adoption or parenting can trigger both negative and positive feelings. Each woman’s experience is unique.

Most women feel that they have made the right decision after having an abortion. For some women, however, abortion can raise negative emotional responses such as grief, guilt, anger, shame and regret. Understanding your emotions can help you begin to let go of any pain and start to heal. If you are able to acknowledge and accept your feelings, then you have already initiated the healing process.

While it is important to look after your emotional well-being after an abortion, it is also important to follow up with a doctor to ensure that you are healing well physically. After your abortion, the hospital or clinic staff will provide you with instructions for your after care. You will either be scheduled a follow up appointment or you will be given a list of doctors to contact for an appointment. The clinic staff should let you know what to expect in the days following your abortion, including details on how much bleeding and cramping is expected, as well as signs that could indicate a complication.

What might contribute to a woman feeling distress after an abortion?

There are many possible reasons for a woman to feel distressed after an abortion. A few examples are as follows:

  • Hormones are changing back to their pre-pregnancy state after an abortion which can trigger a range of emotions.
  • A woman is more likely to feel negative emotions if she felt pressured by someone else to have an abortion instead of having made her own decision.
  • Some women receive little or no support from friends or family. Moreover, some women have abortions without informing friends or family because they know that they will not be supported. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Social stigmas about abortion can make it difficult for women to share their experience, which can be isolating.
  • If a woman has an abortion but her partner is not supportive of her choice, it can cause a lot of stress and tension within the relationship.
  • Any time you make a difficult life decision, it is natural to have second thoughts. Allowing yourself to express any negative feelings that you may be having can help to diminish their impact. Sometimes reading about other women's experiences can be reassuring and may make your own feelings more clear.
What can I do to help myself heal after an abortion?

After an abortion, there are a few things you can do to help process what you have experienced. The following suggestions may help you to resolve your feelings and help you to get some closure.

  • Talk to yourself in ways that are affirmative. Participate in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good, including ones that you would not do on a regular basis. Remind yourself why you made the decision to have an abortion. Remember you made the best decision you could, based on where you were in your life at the time.
  • Write your feelings in a private journal.
  • Practice relaxation exercises to help deal with stress.
  • Remember that you are not alone in having chosen abortion. Each year many women around the world have abortions.
  • Read about other women’s experiences .
  • Talk to a counselor about your feelings.
Where can I get more information about post abortion self care?
  • Contact a local member of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health for information about services are available in your area.
  • Peace after Abortion provides an overview of emotional issues after abortion, stories from women who have had an abortion, and suggestions for support.
  • The Hope Clinic for Women has a list of publications related to abortion that can be ordered through their website.
Updated July 17, 2008

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