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?

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.


Abortion Pill Online: What are the Risks?
abortion pill online what are the risks

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.


What To Expect When You Miss a Period
What To Expect When You Miss a Period

Missing a period can trigger a lot of anxiety, especially if you think you might be unexpectedly pregnant.

The best thing you can do is to take good care of yourself. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing can be very helpful while you wait for an answer as to why your period did not start as expected.

This article will discuss how your menstrual cycle works, why you might miss a period, and what to expect when you do miss a period.

How Your Menstrual Cycle Works

Each month your body goes through a hormonal process to prepare for a possible pregnancy; this is referred to as your menstrual cycle, or simply your “cycle.”

The average length of a woman’s cycle is 28 days and is measured from the first day of your period to the day before your next period. A normal cycle can vary from 21 days to 35 days, and there are four distinct hormonal phases.

1. Menstrual Phase

The menstrual phase of your cycle is the three to seven days while you have your period. During this phase, your progesterone levels drop, causing you to get your period. The menstrual phase overlaps with the next phase, the follicular phase.

2. Follicular Phase

Estrogen levels rise during the follicular phase of your cycle. This phase starts on the first day of your period and ends when an egg is released from an ovary (ovulation).

3. Ovulatory Phase

The ovulatory phase occurs approximately fourteen days before your next period begins and is the time in your cycle when you can become pregnant.

Did you know that your sex drive is the highest when you are the most likely to become pregnant? This is caused by hormone shifts that occur during the ovulatory phase.

4. Luteal Phase

The luteal phase is the second half of your cycle. It starts after ovulation as the egg begins to travel through the fallopian tube on its way to the uterus, and it ends when your next period starts.

If the egg is not fertilized, your progesterone and estrogen hormones drop during this phase, producing premenstrual symptoms and a period.

But what can cause you to miss a period?

Reasons You Can Miss a Period

There are several reasons you can miss a period. Here we will discuss seven of them.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the most common reason to miss your period. If a released egg is fertilized and implants into the uterine lining, the hCG hormone is produced and this causes you to miss a period.

Some women experience implantation bleeding and mistake it for a period. However, implantation bleeding is typically lighter than a normal period.

Stress

Emotional stress can also cause you to miss a period. If you are experiencing stress and have ruled out pregnancy, talk to a healthcare provider about ways you can reduce your stress levels.

Weight changes

Rapid weight loss can also cause you to miss a period. Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia can cause your weight to fall more than 10% below a normal range. These conditions can also prevent ovulation and periods.

Being overweight can also lead to hormone changes that impact your menstrual cycle.

It is essential to seek the advice of a medical professional if you think your weight may be contributing to missed periods.

Health conditions

Several health conditions impact hormone levels and can cause you to miss a period. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid imbalance are two common reasons.

If your blood sugar fluctuates abnormally with diabetes or hypoglycemia, it can also affect your hormones and periods.

Increased exercise

Are you training for a marathon? Or perhaps you have increased your exercise level to get in shape. Either way, a significant increase in exercise can cause you to miss your period.

Breastfeeding

It is common for women to have irregular periods or altogether skip periods while breastfeeding.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause refers to the years before menopause when a woman’s body produces less estrogen. It usually starts during a woman’s 40s, but it can also start in her 30s or earlier. A symptom of perimenopause is missed periods.

What can you expect if you have missed your period?

What To Expect When You Miss a Period

If you have missed your period and think you might be pregnant, you can start by taking a home pregnancy test.

Once an egg is fertilized (conception), it takes about five to six days for it to travel through the fallopian tube into the uterus. Once the fertilized egg reaches the uterus, it implants into the uterine lining.

If implantation occurs, your body begins producing a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). It is the hCG hormone that a pregnancy test detects to tell you if you are pregnant or not. Your body produces hCG about seven to ten days after conception.

Home pregnancy tests advertise the ability to detect a pregnancy as early as five days before you miss your period. But keep in mind that testing so early can cause a false negative pregnancy test result even if you are pregnant. There just not yet enough hCG in your system for the test to recognize.

A false negative pregnancy test can increase your anxiety, and retesting can get expensive. For that reason, we recommend you wait to take a pregnancy test until after the day you expected your period.

What happens if you have already missed your period, but your pregnancy test is negative? In that case, wait several days, and take another test. If it is still negative but your period has not started, see a licensed healthcare provider so they can determine the cause and decide if you need treatment.

No Cost Pregnancy Testing Is Available

At Willow Womens Center, we understand how important it is for you to know why you have missed your period. We also know that pregnancy tests can be expensive, so we offer pregnancy testing to you at no cost.  

If you have missed your period and want to know if you are pregnant, we are here for you. Reach out today for your confidential appointment and set your mind at ease with the answers you deserve.


STD Testing in Janesville
STD Testing in Janesville

When you hear the word “epidemic,” you may automatically think of COVID-19. But did you know there is another epidemic in our midst?

One in every five people in the United States has a sexually transmitted disease (STD). That is the equivalent of 68 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). STDs are the silent epidemic.

Unfortunately, common STDs among women, chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also be silent. This means you can have an STD for years without knowing it, allowing time for damage to occur to your reproductive system.

STD testing is critical whether you have symptoms or not. Read on to learn more.

What Are the Risks of Untreated STDs?

Women might assume they don’t have an STD because they do not have symptoms, but an undiagnosed and untreated STD can lead to severe risks. Some of those risks include:

  • Spreading it to other people
  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Long-term pelvic pain
  • Certain cancers, such as HPV-associated cervical and rectal cancers
  • Eye infections such as conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Complications duringfuture pregnancies
  • Lower life expectancy

The best way to avoid these risks if you are sexually active is to get regular STD testing.

Who Needs STD Testing?

Anyone who is sexually active needs routine STD testing. Sexual activity includes all forms, not just vaginal sex. Even if you are in a relationship with one partner, you cannot know your partner’s status for sure. The CDC has established guidelines for STD testing, which include:

  • All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. People under age 25 account for half of all new reported STDs each year.
  • Women 25 years and older with risk factors should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Risk factors include having multiple sex partners, a new partner, or a partner who tested positive for an STD.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy.
  • At-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy.

If any of these descriptions fit you, you need STD testing. Don’t let the fear of STD stigma stop you. The professionals who perform STD testing have heard it all, and they do the work they do to help women like you, not to judge you.

What Happens During STD Testing?

STD Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea is quick and easy.

  • You will provide a urine sample.
  • Your urine sample is sent to a laboratory for testing.
  • You receive your results within just a few days.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are treatable. If your STD results are positive, you will be provided with a prescription for  medication to treat chlamydia. For a positive result for gonorrhea, you will receive a referral for treatment. It is very important to take all of the medicine exactly as instructed.

Looking for free STD Testing in Janesville?

If you live in or near Janesville, Wisconsin, Willow Womens Center in Beloit is just a short drive away. We offer no-cost, judgment-free STD testing provided by compassionate, licensed healthcare professionals. If you are facing an unexpected pregnancy, we also offer pregnancy resources that empower you to make a confident and informed decision. Contact us by calling 608-312-2025 today. You can also schedule your confidential appointment online at willowwomenscenter.org.