How will I feel after an abortion?
How a woman might feel after an abortion is related to many things, including the level of support she had from family or friends and whether she felt she had made the decision for herself or not.
Women who do have support, who have been able to talk through their decision with someone they trust, and who have made the decision to terminate themselves mostly deal well with an abortion. The most reported emotion after an abortion is one of relief.
However, whilst many women will experience a sense of relief after their abortion, others may experience mixed feelings, and some may feel relief mixed with other emotions. Some women may have more difficulties coping with their abortion. Difficulties in coping seem to be triggered by a number of factors, including factors that are not directly involved with having an abortion.
Those who experience negativity after an abortion are more likely to be those women who have felt they needed to keep the abortion a secret or those who felt they acted against their own values or beliefs by having an abortion. Women who terminate a wanted pregnancy because of a maternal or fetal health complication may also struggle more with this decision.
In other words, the experience of abortion depends on more than just a woman's feelings, thoughts and personality. It is her ability to access resources when needed. It is her life situation and life history. It is her relationships with significant others in her life. It is her treatment from doctors, teachers, workmates, employers and health workers. It is cultural expectations, society's expectations and beliefs, and the relevant laws, policies and practices.
A woman's emotions immediately after an abortion can be made stronger by the chemical and hormonal aspects of the procedure. This includes stress hormones leading up to the procedure, and the chemicals involved in some anaesthetic drugs. These break down quickly in the body, but the hormone levels associated with the pregnancy are slower. Whilst the majority of the pregnancy hormones will go when the pregnancy is ended, the remaining hormones can take three or more weeks to leave the body. With pregnancy hormones being at their greatest levels between 9 and 13 weeks gestation, this hormonal shift can be significant. Allow yourself two or three weeks for these emotions to subside.
If you or someone you know is having trouble after an abortion, it could help to talk to someone. You may also like to read through our support section which looks at some reasons why some women may experience difficulty coping after an abortion, and provides some strategies that may be useful for women who are having trouble coping with their decision to terminate a pregnancy.