Coping after an abortion

Women vary in their emotional response to abortion. Some experience feelings of relief, others feel sadness and possibly regret, whereas other women feel a sense of guilt.

We are all different in our responses to certain situations. So it is very difficult to say how you will feel after an abortion.

Once you have undergone an abortion there are two sets of effects to deal with. There are the physical effects such as bleeding, cramps, abdominal pain and possibly some pregnancy type symptoms such as breast tenderness.

Then there are the psychological effects. Some women cope well with these but others find it difficult to accept that they have had an abortion which causes negative feelings. This can lead to a range of symptoms known as ‘post abortion stress’.

Post abortion stress

‘Post abortion stress’ includes the following symptoms:

  • Tendency to weepiness
  • Feelings of anger, grief or guilt
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Unable to be near children
  • Find it difficult to be near pregnant women or babies
  • Unable to follow their normal daily routine
  • Self-destructive behaviour such as excess alcohol intake, drug taking or self-harming.

Some women experience more of these symptoms than others and to a greater or lesser degree. A woman is at greater risk of developing any of these symptoms if she was pressurised to have an abortion or was ambivalent at the time of making a decision.

If a woman was unsure about having an abortion, had moral or ethical concerns about abortion, was depressed at the time of deciding about abortion or felt that there was no choice then she is more likely to experience this stress.

Post abortion stress is also a risk for women who have strong maternal feelings or decided to have an abortion due to the diagnosis of a disability in the foetus.

If you have recently undergone an abortion and have experienced some of these feelings then what can you do?

The answer is counselling.

Counselling for abortion

Talking to your family and friends can help and it is important to enlist their support. But, do not dismiss the value of professional counselling.

Abortion clinics have their own in-house counsellors who are trained and experienced in all aspects of abortion and can provide support and advice to you before, during and after your abortion. They will offer an unbiased view of abortion and can help you gain a greater understanding of what an abortion means for you.

They will not try to put you off or pass judgement on you. They are there to offer support when you most need it.

This support is available to both NHS and private abortion patients.

If you have chosen to have an abortion at a private clinic then you will find that they have 24 hour counselling services. This access is available over the phone or online and is ideal for those women who would prefer not to discuss their issues face to face.

Your local family planning clinic can help as can your GP. Both of these can recommend where to go for counselling.

The choice to have counselling is entirely up to you and if you do not want to talk someone then you have the right to refuse counselling. But it is helpful to have a neutral opinion if you are undecided whether to have an abortion or not.

If you opt for counselling then you will probably see the same counsellor each time which enables you to build a rapport with him/her as well as gaining the most from these meetings.

You will find it helpful to talk to someone before, during and after your abortion.

Talking to your GP about your abortion

It may help to talk about any issues you may have after your abortion with your GP. He or she will be sympathetic to your concerns and will be able to offer support and advice.

But if your GP is opposed to abortion then you have the option to talk to another doctor. If you have undergone abortion at a private clinic and without your GP’s knowledge then the clinic will not inform him/her of this unless you give them permission to do so.

A clinic is bound by patient confidentiality rules and will only release information to your GP on your say so.

However, the clinic may suggest that you give permission for them to pass on information about your abortion to your GP’s surgery as this may be useful if complications arise in the future. It also enables the surgery to keep your medical records up to date.

Is there support for young people?

If you are under 16 and considering an abortion then there is counselling for you. Find out more in our teenagers and abortion section.

There are many websites which offer help and advice after an abortion. One example is Care Confidential (

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