Does Abortion Hurt?

In brief, the experience varies individually, and there’s no precise prediction of the sensation.  Comparisons to menstrual cramps are common, but others may describe more discomfort.

The presence or absence of pain is determined by distinct elements, including:

  • Your overall health encompasses any underlying medical conditions.
  • The stage of the pregnancy. 
  • Your personal pain threshold.
  • Emotional state and stress levels. 

Furthermore, the nature of the abortion procedure also influences what sensations you might encounter. 

What Is The Sensation Like When Undergoing A Medicated Abortion?

A medicated abortion, conducted during the first trimester, involves the utilization of the abortion pill. Healthcare professionals administer two medications:

  • Mifepristone (Mifeprex), taken orally.
  • Misoprostol (Cytotec), is usually ingested orally, but it can also be taken vaginally, buccally (between the teeth and cheek), or sublingually (under the tongue).

These drugs hinder pregnancy hormones and trigger uterine contractions for the expulsion of the embryo. The process can take around 4 to 5 hours for tissue to be discharged.

This procedure results in vaginal bleeding that’s somewhat heavier than a typical period, necessitating an ample supply of pads. Medicated abortion can induce pain, particularly for individuals who have a history of intense and heavy menstrual cycles.

Passing relatively sizable clots is also common. This will gradually decrease after a few days, although you might continue to experience bleeding or spotting for a couple of weeks.

Medicated abortion can potentially lead to:

  • Mild to intense cramps
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Typically, these side effects subside within 1 to 2 days. Using vaginal, buccal, or sublingual medications might result in fewer side effects compared to oral medications.

How To Minimize Pain?

As stated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the most intense discomfort might occur approximately 2 1/2 to 4 hours after misoprostol ingestion. This pain might endure for around 1 hour.

Discuss with your healthcare provider the option of taking an over-the-counter (OTC) medication beforehand, like ibuprofen. This step can potentially mitigate the likelihood of experiencing cramps. However, refrain from taking aspirin as it could elevate bleeding.

You might also consider:

  • Arranging the procedure for a day when you can remain at home.
  • Opting for loose attire during the initial days.
  • Apply a heating pad or warm water bottle on your abdomen to alleviate cramps.
  • Utilizing pillows to support yourself in a comfortable posture.

What is the experience like when undergoing a surgical abortion?

A surgical abortion procedure resembles a pelvic exam. With your feet in stirrups, your healthcare provider inspects your cervix using a speculum. After numbing and dilating the cervix, a flexible tube connected to a gentle suction device empties the uterus. For pregnancies over 15 weeks, a combination of suction, curettage, and forceps is employed for complete uterine evacuation.

What You Will Feel?

You might begin to sense uterine cramps and notice bleeding immediately, which could persist for several weeks.

Additional possible side effects encompass:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Significant bleeding

How To Minimize Pain?

Local anesthesia is usually given before a surgical abortion, and pain medication might be recommended. Sedation options include mild general anesthesia or oral sedatives to manage pain and anxiety. You'll stay conscious but won't remember the procedure, feeling groggy until the anesthesia wears off, so arrange for a ride home.


Making the choice to have an abortion and selecting the appropriate method are significant decisions, underscoring the importance of obtaining upfront information. For more such content, check out