Does abortion hurt? How to cope with the pain

Riya Thomas

Created by Riya Thomas
Updated on Jun 01, 2022

Does abortion hurt How to cope with the pain

No woman will ever decide to have an abortion without seriously considering it. There are many reasons a woman may want to have an abortion, such as health concerns or social concerns. Regardless of the reason, abortion can be an extremely emotional decision for a woman to make. One of the most common concerns of women who require an abortion is "does abortion hurt?"  Well, different women react to abortion differently. A woman's level of pain during an abortion can range from mild discomfort to moderate to severe pain depending on several factors. Some women can manage their pain with medication and others are not.

Does abortion hurts?

Generally, abortion pain is similar to strong menstrual cramps, which last only a short time. The amount of pain and other side effects a woman might experience following an abortion is largely determined by the method and type of abortion she has. 


There are three main types of abortion:

  • Medical Abortions

  • Vacuum Aspiration

  • Dilation And Evacuation

Abortion pain also depends on:

  • Overall health

  • Pain tolerance

  • Underlying medical conditions

  • Emotions and stress levels

  • How far the pregnancy progressed

Pain associated with medical abortions

In a medical abortion, a woman takes two pills prescribed by her doctor to end her pregnancy. The medications prevent the release of pregnancy hormones, which subsequently cause the uterus to contract to expel the pregnancy. Most women report that the experience is similar to a heavy period and cramps. However, some women may feel more intense cramping.

The pain that may follow vacuum aspiration

It is a surgical procedure. The process of vacuum aspiration involves gently sucking the pregnant tissue out of the uterus using suction. The use of pain-relieving medications makes vacuum aspiration rarely painful. However, it is not uncommon for this process to produce a sense of pulling or dragging. Pain after vacuum aspiration is similar to period pains.

The pain after dilation and evacuation

Another type of surgical abortion is dilation and evacuation, which is generally recommended for women who have been pregnant for over 13 weeks. Doctors use an instrument with a loop-shaped tip to scrape the uterus to make sure all the pregnancy tiles are removed. This is called curettage. When the pregnancy extends beyond 15 weeks, suction, curettage, and forceps might be required to fully empty the uterus. Following the procedure, women may experience severe cramps for 24 hours; they may even experience mild cramps for the next two weeks.

Does Embryo Experience Pain During Abortion?


The question of whether the embryo can experience pain is one that a lot of women express concern about. Signals from peripheral sensory nerves must be transmitted to the brain to allow humans to feel pain. It takes at least the 24th week of pregnancy for the complex neural pathways necessary to process pain signals to develop. Thus the embryo does not experience any pain as a result of abortion. Numerous medical studies support this assumption. 

Emotional pain caused by abortion

Each person takes an abortion differently.  Some women who undergo an abortion may feel relieved from the stress of unintended pregnancy, while others may feel guilty, even though they are aware that it is the right decision.


Have a difficult time after an abortion? Speak with a therapist, psychologist, or social worker. It can help you process your feelings if you take therapy or join support groups.

How do ease pain or discomfort after abortion?

There are steps you can take if you are feeling pain or discomfort after an abortion. 


  • You can ease pain by taking ibuprofen. 

  • Avoid aspirin as it can worsen bleeding.

  • You can relieve cramps by placing a hot water bottle on your stomach or by using a heating pad.

  • Taking a warm shower may help relieve cramps and back pain.

  • Relaxing back massages also help.

  • Uterine massage can relieve pain after an abortion. Using your fingers, firmly press on your abdomen. From the belly button to the pubic bone start rubbing in a circular motion. Continuing this for at least 10 minutes may bring some relief.

  • Having hot beverages like tea or cocoa may temporarily relieve pain.

  • In case you're still miserable after a couple of days, it is important to contact your doctor.


Compared to a normal period, an abortion will cause much more bleeding and cramping. Most of the time, abortion does not negatively affect a woman's health in the future. Also, the risk of breast cancer, depression, and infertility are not increased by abortion. There is a reason for a woman to choose abortion, and that reason justifies the choice. 


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