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Questions and Answers

Are Abortions Safe? Can You Have Health Problems After an Abortion?

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There’s a lot of misleading information out there about what abortions involve, what the risks are, and what the effects are after an abortion. It’s important to know that both surgical and medical abortions are safe and legal in Canada. It’s always your right to have one and to choose the kind of abortion you are most comfortable with. Sometimes, your doctor may recommend a surgical abortion instead of the abortion pill depending on your situation. Both types of abortion are covered by RAMQ in Quebec.

Are abortions safe?

Health problems after an abortion are rare. When they happen, they’re usually easy to notice and treat. Surgical and medical abortions can have some risk. But studies show that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures to have.

If some part of an abortion scares you, it can help to talk to your doctor about your worries. Helplines can also help. You can try…

What should I watch out for after an abortion?

Signs of problems following an abortion often show up early. If you notice any of these, get in touch with the clinic where you had the procedure done right away:

  • Heavy bleeding, for example, if you go through more than two maxi-pads per hour for two hours or more.
  • Severe stomach pain or discomfort that is not helped by medication.
  • A fever or chills after the day of the procedure.
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea for more than 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Foul-smelling discharge from your vagina.
  • Signs that you may still be pregnant.

Will it be harder to get pregnant again after an abortion?

Choosing to end a pregnancy doesn’t make it harder to get pregnant again. Most doctors recommend that you avoid vaginal or anal sex for two weeks after an abortion. After this, someone could get pregnant again at any time. Abortions don’t make issues like miscarriages more likely.

If you want to avoid getting pregnant, you can find a birth control that’s right for you. Hormonal birth control, IUDs, or condoms are great at preventing pregnancy. They’re also safe. Birth control is simple to get in Montreal and is usually covered by Medicare or health insurance. You can talk to your doctor about these options to find what might work best for you.

What about other long-term side effects?

Many people who don’t approve of abortions say that they can have long-term side effects. The risks for long-term side effects after an abortion are about the same as after giving birth. Some people notice depression or other emotional problems after an abortion. While these feelings can coincide with the time of the procedure, they aren’t necessarily caused by the procedure itself. Someone who is supported in their decision has less risk of having these negative feelings. There are lots of tips that exist to help work through these feelings when they arise.

Most clinics can give referrals for therapists and other places to get support. It might help to ask about this, especially if you’d like more supportive people around you.

It’s okay to feel sad about ending a pregnancy. Feeling sad, or having complicated feelings, doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice for you. There’s no wrong way to feel about having an abortion. There’s also nothing wrong with asking for help after an abortion, or any other time.

If I already had an abortion, is it dangerous to have another?

Anyone who has had an abortion in a safe environment with a trained provider usually won’t have problems having another. There’s no maximum number of abortions that you can have. The decision is up to you and your doctor.

An abortion is a well-known and easy procedure. Long-term problems are even rarer than short-term ones. Having one abortion doesn’t make it dangerous to have another.

More info:

  • Abortion Emotional/Spiritual Recovery Guide

    Planned Parenthood Ottawa: Workbook guide containing information and exercises surrounding ones emotional and/or spiritual recovery process after an abortion. 

  • All About Abortion – Scarleteen

    Scarleteen’s All About Abortion page gives details on what abortion is, how it happens, what it feels like, and how to take care of yourself after.

  • Montreal Abortion Appointment Centre

    You can call the Montreal Abortion Appointment Centre if you want your abortion done in a hospital or a CLSC. Hospitals and CLSCs can do abortions later in the pregnancy than most clinics. They can also do free abortions for people with a valid medicare card from another Canadian province (no need to pay upfront).