Provide Important Information

A woman has important choices to make after receiving postabortion care. To make decisions about her health and fertility, she needs to know:

  • Fertility returns quickly—within 2 weeks after a first-trimester abortion or miscarriage and within 4 weeks after a second-trimester abortion or miscarriage. Therefore, she needs protection from pregnancy almost Immediately.
  • She can choose among many different family planning methods that she can start at once (see next page). Methods that women should not use immediately after giving birth pose no special risks after treatment for abortion complications.
  • She can wait before choosing a contraceptive for ongoing use, but she should consider using a backup method* in the meantime if she has sex. If a woman decides not to use contraceptives at this time, providers can offer information on available methods and where to obtain them. Also, providers can offer condoms, oral contraceptives, and also emergency contraceptive pills for women to take home and use later.
  • To avoid infection, she should not have sex until bleeding stops—about 5 to 7 days. If being treated for infection or vaginal or cervical injury, she should wait to have sex again until she has fully healed.
  • If she wants to become pregnant again soon, encourage her to wait. Waiting at least 6 months may reduce the chances of low birth weight, premature birth, and maternal anemia.

A woman receiving postabortion care may need other reproductive health services. In particular, a provider can help her consider if she might have been exposed to sexually transmitted infections.

* Backup methods include abstinence, male or female condoms, spermicides, and withdrawal. She can use spermicides if she has no vaginal or cervical injury. Tell her that spermicides and withdrawal are the least effective contraceptive methods. If possible, give her condoms.