No-Cost and Confidential Women's Center

The abortion experience is unique to each woman that goes through it. Whether a woman finds an abortion painful or not is dependent on several different factors.

  • Individual pain tolerance
  • The procedure used
  • Medication used
  • Complications

Medical Abortion

In a medical abortion, also known as the abortion pill, a series of drugs are taken to terminate a viable pregnancy. The side effects of the drugs can be painful and include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Typically, it is recommended that a woman use over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen to manage the pain from medical abortion. It is normal for the pain from cramping to last 1-2 days after the abortion drugs are taken. 

Some women are familiar with intense menstrual cramping and may feel the contractions from medical abortion are similar. In contrast, some women will find the cramping very painful and difficult to manage. 

Surgical Abortion

A surgical abortion is when a provider opens a woman’s cervix with surgical tools and uses suction and sometimes additional scraping tools to remove a pregnancy from the uterus.

Before the provider begins the procedure, they inject a local anesthetic into the cervix. This injection can be painful, but after it takes effect, the woman will only feel pressure in the area until it wears off.

Some abortion clinics will offer general sedation for a surgical abortion at an increased cost. If this is chosen, a woman will need to remain at the clinic until she wakes and then will be required to have a support person drive her home.

Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen will be recommended for pain following a surgical abortion. 


As with any medical procedure, abortion has the risk of complications. Complications come with symptoms that are sometimes painful. The symptoms of complications indicate that medical care is necessary and can include:

  • Heavy bleeding (soaking through more than 2 pads an hour)
  • Lasting dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fever
  • Pain that gets worse instead of better
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina

More Questions?

Contact us to get all your questions about abortion answered.

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