Signs and Symptoms of an Incomplete Abortion
woman sitting on a couch holding her midsection in pain after an incomplete abortion

At Willow Womens Center, we understand the stress and overwhelm that accompany unplanned pregnancies. On top of deciding the future for your baby, you also have to consider the risk you are accepting for yourself with each option. All options come with inherent risk. Unfortunately, some women who make the difficult choice to terminate their pregnancy end up experiencing an unexpected complication: incomplete abortion.

Women and couples who find out they are expecting typically have three options:

  • Choosing to continue the pregnancy and raise the child, which involves significant responsibility but can be rewarding with the right support and resources
  • Carrying the pregnancy to term and then placing the child with adoptive parents, where you can choose whether to maintain contact with the child or not
  • Terminating the pregnancy through surgical or medical interventions, which is typically only available if the pregnancy is still in early stages

The decision to have an abortion is a complex and deeply personal one based on emotional readiness for parenting, personal beliefs, financial circumstances, and more. Pregnancy options counseling, community support services, and parenting classes can offer tremendous support during the decision-making process. The more you know, the easier it is to make an informed decision.

In this blog, we will explore incomplete abortions in depth. We will discuss what an incomplete abortion is, what causes it, the signs and symptoms, when to see a doctor and more.

What is an Incomplete Abortion?

First, it is important to understand abortion. Abortion refers to the termination of a pregnancy, resulting in the removal or expulsion of the products of conception and preventing further development and potential birth. Abortion can be performed using medication to induce the termination of pregnancy for women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant. It can also be performed surgically through procedures like vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage (D&C) and dilation and evacuation (D&E).

Just like its name suggests, an incomplete abortion occurs when your medical or surgical abortion fails to fully remove all pregnancy and fetal tissue from your womb. This remaining tissue can lead to problems and complications. In some cases, a viable pregnancy remains.

What Causes an Incomplete Abortion

Incomplete abortions occur most often when the abortion pill – or medications used to induce abortion – are taken too late in pregnancy. This can happen if the pregnancy isn’t confirmed before the abortion pill is prescribed. It can also happen if you take the abortion pill without receiving corresponding medical care. This is most common when the pill is ordered online or received from someone who is not authorized to give it to you.

Incomplete surgical abortions can be caused by anatomical differences that make it more challenging to remove all of the productions of conception. Complications during the procedure can also increase your risk.

It is imperative to have an ultrasound examination before an abortion procedure. Seek guidance from a qualified medical professional to prevent this and other serious complications.

What are the Symptoms of an Incomplete Abortion

After your medical or surgical abortion, follow your provider’s instructions for recovery.

It is normal to experience some cramping and bleeding after a medical or surgical abortion. Symptoms that might indicate there is still some tissue remaining include:

woman placing her hand to her temple, she is grimacing in pain after an incomplete abortion
  • continued or heavy bleeding beyond what is expected after an abortion
  • persistent or increasing abdominal or pelvic pain, which might be accompanied by cramping
  • a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • passing large clots or visible tissue that seems to be different from what you expect after an abortion
  • foul-smelling discharge
  • signs of pregnancy after abortion like breast tenderness, fatigue, or nausea that persist after the procedure

What to Do if You are Having These Symptoms

If you think you might have an incomplete abortion, see a doctor as soon as possible. If you develop a fever after a surgical or medical abortion, seek emergency medical attention.

How Likely is an Incomplete Abortion?

Almost half of all abortions are unsafe. Unsafe abortions are most likely to result in serious and life-threatening complications.

The likelihood of incomplete abortion is substantially lowered when you partner with a qualified team to determine the gestational age of the fetus before moving forward with an abortion and, if you choose, plan and carry out the termination of pregnancy. Only take medications prescribed to you by a doctor who is treating you.

Sometimes, anatomical abnormalities lead to this complication in even the safest situations.

Treatment for Incomplete Abortion

First, an ultrasound is required to confirm if tissue remains in the uterus after your procedure. Then, there are three primary approaches to incomplete abortion:

  • monitoring ongoing hCG levels and preparing for a potentially successful pregnancy
  • removing the remnants of the pregnancy through vacuum aspiration, an outpatient procedure
  • removing the remnants of the pregnancy through the administration of medication

In some cases, women go on to have healthy pregnancies and deliveries after a failed abortion. The team at Willow Womens Center has helped women in this situation understand their options, get the care they need and prepare to parent their children.

Do you think you might be pregnant? Willow Womens Center offers free, compassionate services for women and couples facing unplanned pregnancy, including:

  • STI screening and treatment
  • early ultrasounds to confirm pregnancy and gestational age
  • pregnancy options counseling to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of all of the options available to you
  • parenting classes
  • free disposable diapers for women in need through their Diaper Assistance Program

The more you know about all of the options available to you as you embark on this journey, the more likely you are to make the best option for you and your family. Whether you are considering your options, need information, or are seeking healthcare, we can help. Schedule your free consultation appointment today online or by calling Willow Womens Center at 608-312-2025. Our compassionate team is here to listen and help.


How to Take Care of Yourself After an Abortion

Having an abortion may have turned out to be more challenging than you expected it to be, and self-care is critically important afterward.

If you are recovering from a medical or surgical abortion, you are not alone. Research reveals that in the United States, 24% of women aged 15 to 44 years will have an abortion by age 45.

What can you do to improve your healing process after an abortion? Read on to learn more about how to care for yourself physically and emotionally while you are recovering from an abortion.

How to Take Care of Yourself After an Abortion 

Whether you had a medical or surgical abortion, self-care is essential so you can recover and thrive. Self-care during this time includes resting, drinking plenty of fluids, eating healthy foods, and incorporating anything healthy and comforting to you. 

If you were prescribed antibiotics, take all the pills until they are gone to prevent infection. And take antinausea and pain medication as directed. 

Remember that you can get pregnant very quickly after an abortion, so take precautions to prevent another unexpected pregnancy. 

You are valuable and deserve to care for yourself physically and emotionally.

1. How to Care for Yourself Physically After Abortion 

After an abortion, you need to know which physical side effects are expected and which symptoms indicate a complication requiring immediate medical attention. First, we will discuss common side effects after abortion and how to take care of yourself if you experience them. 

  • Bleeding

Some women have minimal bleeding after a surgical abortion because surgical instruments are used on the uterine lining. But on average, post-abortion bleeding lasts 14 days and can last as long as six weeks. Passing small blood clots is normal, and you may notice that bleeding increases if you are more active.

Try to physically get as much rest as you can for the first day or two after an abortion. Also, avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for about one week.

Use pads for the bleeding since most healthcare professionals recommend not putting anything into your vagina for two weeks, including tampons. This is to prevent infection while waiting for your cervix to close after having an abortion.

  • Cramping

Your uterus needs to return to its pre-pregnancy size, so uncomfortable cramping is normal after an abortion.

For cramping relief, you can take Ibuprofen or Tylenol as directed. Do not take aspirin because it can increase bleeding. A heating pad on your abdomen can also relieve cramping pain. 

Uterine massage is another effective way to alleviate cramping. To do uterine massage, press the palm of your hand into your abdomen and rub in a circular motion.

Post-abortion cramping can come and go for about 7 to 10 days. As with post-abortion bleeding, cramps may increase with activity so listen to your body and pace yourself.

  • Nausea/Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting for the first 24 hours after abortion is common and may also be accompanied by diarrhea.  

To help with these symptoms, you can eat small, bland, starchy meals such as dry toast or crackers. It may also help to have beverages on hand with extra electrolytes.

The following symptoms are NOT normal after an abortion. If you experience them, seek out medical care immediately.

  • Heavy bleeding: soaking two or more maxi pads an hour for two hours or passing clots larger than a golf ball for two hours or more
  • Severe abdominal or back pain: pain not relieved with pain medication
  • Fever over 100.4°: may indicate a serious infection that has spread to your bloodstream or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Odorous vaginal discharge: a sign of infection
  • Nausea and vomiting for more than 24 hours after the abortion:
  • You still have pregnancy symptoms two weeks after the abortion: could indicate a failed abortion if you are still experiencing signs of pregnancy two weeks after your abortion

2. How to Care for Yourself Emotionally After Abortion

There is not a correct way to feel after an abortion. Feelings of relief, sadness, or a combination of many conflicting emotions are normal. You have not only just made one of the most difficult decisions you have ever faced, but your body is experiencing physical symptoms as your hormone levels shift suddenly, which can cause you to feel extra emotional.

Research indicates that abortion is associated with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders compared to women without a history of abortion. If you notice that you are having difficulty coping after an abortion, help is available for you. If a supportive family member or friend is not available, there are other resources to get the help you need.

Push yourself to reach out for help – even if you may not feel like seeking support at the moment. The sooner you can address post-abortion emotional difficulties, the quicker you can get on your path to recovery.

You can reach confidential hotlines for mental health support at SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or via text message: 435748 (HELP4U). It is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year information service in English and Spanish.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, take it seriously and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. What you are feeling is temporary, and with compassionate support and over time things will improve!

Need Support After Abortion?

If you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant or need support after abortion, Willow Womens Center is here for you. From the moment you walk into our center, you will recognize an atmosphere of care that will never include judgment for any decision you make – or have already made. Instead, our role is to compassionately come alongside you and provide you with the answers you need so you can take informed next steps for yourself.

You will never be charged for any services we offer at Willow Womens Center. Pregnancy testing, education, ultrasounds, and STI testing are all at no cost to you and designed to empower you.

Get the caring support you deserve and make your confidential appointment today.


What Are the Different Types of Abortion?
woman considers the different types of abortions

Have you discovered you are pregnant, but you were not expecting it? Many women understand what you are going through because 45% – nearly half – of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Deciding what to do about an unexpected pregnancy may be one of the most difficult decisions you have ever faced. And educating yourself about each pregnancy option, including parenting, adoption, and abortion, is crucial. It helps you make a decision without regret, one that you can look back on years down the road and know that you made the best decision for yourself with the right information.

If you are considering abortion, it is good to have all the facts before moving forward, so we are glad you are here. Read on to learn about the different types of abortion, when they are typically offered, and potential risks.

What Are the Different Types of Abortion?

There are two types of abortion available: medical abortion and surgical abortion. A healthcare provider will consider factors such as your health and how far along you are in your pregnancy to know which abortion option is available to you for your specific situation.

We will discuss each type of abortion next to help you understand them better.

Medical Abortion

You may have heard a medical abortion referred to as a medication abortion, the abortion pill, or RU-486, but they are all terms used to describe an abortion using medication rather than a surgical procedure.

When can you have a medical abortion?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the abortion pill for medical abortions up to seventy days since the first day of your last period (LMP).

Are there reasons medical abortion is not an option?

Yes, there are situations when a healthcare professional may tell you that you cannot have a medical abortion.

Medical abortion is not an option if you:

  • Are being pressured or coerced into having an abortion.
  • Do not have access to medical care in case of complications.
  • Are too far along in your pregnancy.
  • Have a pregnancy outside of your uterus, such as an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Have an intrauterine device (IUD).
  • Have an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Are allergic to abortion medications.
  • Have certain medical conditions.
  • Take certain medications like blood thinners or steroids.

What happens during a medical abortion?

During a medical abortion, you will take two different medications: mifepristone and misoprostol.

You will first take mifepristone to block your body from producing the progesterone hormone. Blocking progesterone causes the embryo’s heart to stop beating and it will detach from the uterine lining.

The second medication, misoprostol, is taken approximately 24 hours later. Misoprostol causes your uterus to contract, so the embryo is expelled to end the pregnancy.

According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms during a medical abortion may include:

  • Heavy uterine cramps
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding, including blood clots
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Low-grade fever (under 101°)
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore breasts
  • Drowsiness
  • Visualizing the gestational sac or embryo when it passes

Surgical Abortion

A surgical abortion is performed in a clinic or hospital. There are three different types of surgical abortions, depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Surgical abortions include vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage (D&C), and dilation and evacuation (D&E).

1. Vacuum aspiration abortion

A vacuum aspiration abortion is used during the first trimester of pregnancy (the first twelve weeks), and it is the most common surgical abortion procedure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 91% of women have abortions at thirteen weeks of pregnancy or less.

Some clinics use the vacuum aspiration procedure up to 14-16 weeks after the first day of your last period.

The procedure takes about ten to fifteen minutes to perform. Manual aspiration involves the use of a specially designed syringe to apply suction. When using a machine vacuum, a thin tube (cannula) is attached by tubing to a bottle and a pump, which provides a vacuum. The cannula is passed into the uterus, the pump is turned on, and the tissue is removed from the uterus.

Both approaches may also involve the use of a cervical dilator inserted into the cervix the day before the procedure to dilate (open) the cervix. Antibiotics may be given as well to prevent infection.

2. D&C abortion

A D&C abortion is usually performed between twelve and fifteen weeks of pregnancy. During a D&C abortion, curette instruments are used after vacuum aspiration to remove anything remaining in your uterus. A D&C abortion also takes about ten to fifteen minutes.

3. D&E abortion

Once you are beyond sixteen weeks of pregnancy, the clinic or hospital will typically perform a D&E abortion.

Your cervix needs to be prepared before the procedure, so the provider will insert dilating sticks called laminaria into your cervix the day before a D&E abortion.

On the day of the D&E abortion, numbing medication is used, and your cervix will be stretched open further with dilating rods. This is done since the fetus is larger and needs room to pass.

The provider then uses a combination of suction, curettes, and forceps to complete the abortion. The D&E abortion lasts about thirty minutes.

You may go home with pain medication and antibiotics after any type of surgical abortion.

What Are the Risks Associated With Having an Abortion?

Abortion risks increase the further along you are in your pregnancy. Before moving forward with any medication or procedure, it is important to do your research. For a medical or surgical abortion, possible risks include:

  • Life-threatening infection
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Hemorrhage (excessive bleeding)
  • Incomplete abortion, requiring another procedure
  • Future infertility – inability to get pregnant when ready or to carry a pregnancy to term successfully
  • Mental health challenges

When To Seek Medical Attention After an Abortion

Trust your gut. If you are concerned about anything at all, speak with a healthcare professional.

Seek immediate medical attention after an abortion if you:

  • Have pain worse than a period or when the pain is not alleviated by over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Have a fever over 100.4° or flu-like symptoms.
  • Are passing clots larger than a golf ball.
  • Are soaking two maxi pads every hour for two consecutive hours.
  • Vomit for more than four hours.
  • Have increased vaginal discharge or odorous discharge.
  • Still feel pregnant a week or two after the abortion.

Get the Support You Deserve

Coping with an unexpected pregnancy can be scary and hard. At Willow Womens Center, we offer compassionate medical care and support during this challenging time.

Our licensed healthcare professionals are here to provide pregnancy medical services that will give you the answers you need to make an informed decision about your pregnancy.

Contact us today for your confidential appointment.


Is it Safe to Buy Abortion Pills Online?
is it safe to buy abortion pills online

Scared. It is a feeling women facing an unexpected pregnancy share. Know that you are not alone if you have discovered you are pregnant and are fearful and confused about what to do next.

Since you are reading this, it means you are educating yourself, and we applaud you for that. You have pregnancy options that you may not have considered, and you are here seeking answers.

During your internet research, you may have come across the possibility of purchasing the abortion pill online. And perhaps you thought to yourself, “This sounds easy!” 

American women have been purchasing abortion pills online from other countries for several years because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed it illegal to obtain them over the internet. But, in April 2021, the FDA stated that they would use discretion to enforce their safeguards during the pandemic by allowing telehealth visits and mail-order abortion pills.

The FDA’s ruling opened doors for women in many states to receive the abortion pill online without seeing a healthcare provider in person.

But is it safe? Accurate information is power, so read on to learn more.

What Is the Abortion Pill?

Medical abortion (or medication abortion) and surgical abortion are two ways to end an unwanted pregnancy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the abortion pill for medical abortions up to seventy days since the first day of your last period (LMP). 

The term “abortion pill” sounds like you are only taking one pill. But in reality, a medical abortion requires taking multiple pills of two different abortion medications; mifepristone and misoprostol.

The first abortion medication, mifepristone, is taken to block progesterone. When progesterone is blocked, the uterine lining breaks down, and the embryo’s heart stops beating.

The second medication, misoprostol, is taken approximately 24 hours later. Misoprostol causes the embryo to detach from the uterus and be expelled by producing heavy uterine cramping.

Risks of Medical Abortion

Online purchase of abortion pills is marketed to women in crisis as an easy solution. Some providers attempt to lure you in by claiming that a medical abortion is nice to have in the comfort of your own home or that it is safer than taking Tylenol. But these claims can be misleading. You deserve a complete picture to make an informed decision about your pregnancy.

At first glance, just taking some medication seems so much easier than a surgical procedure, but there are known side effects and risks to consider.

When you take abortion pills, your medical abortion happens at home, which can feel scary if you are not prepared for the possible side effects, including:

  • Visualizing the gestational sac/pregnancy pass
  • Painful uterine and abdominal cramps
  • Back pain
  • Heavy bleeding and passing blood clots
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low-grade fever (under 100.4°)
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Sore breasts
  • Fatigue

In addition to unpleasant side effects, there are also serious risks needing medical attention to consider, and they could include:

  • Incomplete abortion requiring a follow-up surgical abortion
  • Heavy bleeding that doesn’t stop
  • High fever
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • An undetected ectopic pregnancy (a medical emergency)
  • Future infertility
  • Death

Now that you understand the risks of taking abortion pills, we will discuss the added risks of purchasing abortion pills online.

Risks of Purchasing Abortion Pills Online

Purchasing abortion pills online means you do not have an opportunity to be examined by a licensed healthcare provider. As a result, you are put at greater risk for complications by prescribing abortion medications without having all the necessary information obtained by ultrasound.

Here are four risks of purchasing abortion pills online.

  1. You could be further along in your pregnancy than you think.

The FDA has approved abortion pills for up to ten weeks of pregnancy because the need for medical care from complications increases the further along you are. However, the only accurate way to know how many weeks pregnant you are is by ultrasound.

Whether you speak to a healthcare provider through telehealth or not at all, you are left relying on the dates of your menstrual period to determine how far along you are. This information can be inaccurate for several reasons:

  • You may have counted implantation bleeding as a period, causing you to be several weeks further into your pregnancy than you realized.
  • You ovulated earlier in your cycle than expected. If your periods are irregular, it is more difficult to predict when you conceived, and your pregnancy could be further along.

2. You could have a non-viable pregnancy.

A viable pregnancy has a reasonable chance of ending in a live birth. A non-viable pregnancy has zero chance of survival, and it is more common than you might think. Up to 20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, so do not risk putting yourself through a medical abortion if it is not necessary.

Only an ultrasound can tell you if your pregnancy is viable or not.

3. You will not know if you have an ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy happens outside of the uterus, most often in a fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed by ultrasound, but if it isn’t detected, the fallopian tube can burst, and this is a life-threatening emergency.

Taking abortion pills can mask the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy because you are told to expect pain during a medical abortion. This may cause you not to realize that you need immediate medical care because you think the pain is abortion-related rather than a medical emergency.

4. You cannot know what you are purchasing.

You have no way of knowing for sure where abortion pills are coming from when you purchase them online. Therefore, it is impossible to know if they are safe, effective, or made from quality ingredients.

You Are Valuable

You are too valuable to be put at risk. At Willow Womens Center, we offer the no-cost pregnancy services you deserve, so you can be confident that you have made your decision with accurate information regardless of what you decide.

Contact us today for your confidential appointment. Willow Womens Center is judgment-free, and you can trust that you will be treated with dignity and compassion.


How I Can Help My Partner After an Abortion
How I Can Help My Partner After an Abortion

After much research and soul-searching, your partner decided that this was not the time to continue her pregnancy, and she had an abortion. Even if she was confident about her abortion choice, you see that her recovery is not easy and she is trying to take care of herself. You are going through your own process of coping with the abortion, and you still compassionately wonder how you can help your partner.

The first step is to understand what she is going through, so keep reading to learn more about her experience and practical ways to help.

How Your Partner Might Feel After an Abortion

Immediately following a surgical abortion or medical abortion, your partner may feel a sense of relief together with uncomfortable physical symptoms. As time goes on, emotional difficulties may set in. Here is what you can expect your partner to feel soon after a medical or surgical abortion:

  • Pain: Cramping after abortion is normal because it helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. Cramping can last for one to two weeks.
  • Nausea: Nausea and diarrhea are common after an abortion.
  • Bleeding: It’s normal for your partner to pass small clots and bleed for one to two weeks after the abortion. She may experience spotting for longer.
  • Tiredness: Your partner has been through much physically and emotionally after an abortion, contributing to fatigue that can last a few days.
  • Emotional highs and lows: Your partner may feel a complicated combination of relief and sadness. This can be partly due to the sharp hormonal drop that occurs after an abortion. If she had a medical abortion at home and could visualize the pregnancy, that can also contribute.

Some partners may also suffer from long-term effects if they had abortion complications. Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) is a common syndrome that affects both women and men who have been affected by an abortion, and help is available.

Now that we have discussed how your partner might be feeling after an abortion, you might be wondering how you can help.

Ways You Can Help Your Partner After an Abortion

If there is a time when your partner needs to feel safely cared for, it is now — after her abortion. Here are examples of how you can help:

1. Offer practical support

  • Ask what kind of help is most supportive for her.
  • Ask if she wants to be alone or prefers your company.
  • Offer pain medication, a heating pad, and extra pillows to increase her comfort.
  • Bring her food and water.
  • If there are other children, arrange care for them so you can be available for her.
  • Run errands as needed.
  • Bring her to follow-up appointments.
  • Watch for signs of complications needing medical attention.

2. Offer emotional support

  • Be emotionally present.
  • Do something special for her or with her (give a gift or do something she loves).
  • Ask her how she is feeling.
  • Listen actively.
  • Be sensitive to her experience and patient with the healing process.
  • Watch for signs that she needs professional mental health support.
  • Willow Women’s Center Can Help

Willow Womens Center offers no-cost medical services if you and your partner are facing an unexpected pregnancy or considering abortion. Reach out online or call 608-312-2025 today for your confidential appointment and get the answers you deserve.