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Having sex after an abortion

Sex after an abortion is an individual choice. Our article outlines some considerations for your mental and physical health. Read more about having sex after an abortion now.

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After having an abortion you may be wondering when it’s safe to have sex again. Emotional changes, worries of getting pregnant again, or concerns about your physical health may all present questions about when it’s safe to have sex after an abortion. There’s no one simple rule, but your own mental and physical health are the most important things to consider.

How long after an abortion can you have sex?

After an abortion, you can return to sexual activity as soon as you feel ready. Some medical providers may recommend you wait to resume sexual activity (or put anything inside your vagina) due to a very small risk of infection; however, newer studies suggest this is not medically necessary – so the choice is ultimately yours regarding when you feel ready to have sex - both physically and mentally. You may find that while you are physically fine, you need a little extra time to get “in the mood.” Being emotionally ready for sex is just as important as being physically ready, so give yourself all the time you need to return to your “normal” sex life.

How long after the abortion pill can you have sex?

The simplest answer is that it’s up to you. There’s no definitive timeline for when you can have sex after a medication abortion. Some medical providers may suggest that you wait to have sex or insert anything into your vagina for 2-3 weeks because of the small risk of infection. New studies have suggested this is medically unnecessary. Be sure to listen to your abortion provider’s advice, as well as your body. Don’t rush into sex if you don’t feel ready. You may be physically ready, but it’s common to not be “in the mood” yet.  And that’s ok. You’re not obligated to follow anyone else’s schedule but your own. 

After a medication abortion, it's common to experience period-like bleeding for up to four weeks, which may intermittently start and stop. While some opt to wait until the bleeding stops before having sex or being intimate with their partner, some don’t. Your decision should be based on your comfort and personal circumstances. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach; it's about what feels right for you.

Trust yourself & your body

The time and fashion in which you re-engage with sexual activities after an abortion is entirely up to you. Listen to the advice of your abortion provider, prioritize your mental health and personal pleasure, and, above all, trust your ability to move at your own pace.

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How soon after an abortion can you get pregnant?

Timing can vary from person to person, but it’s possible to become pregnant very soon after an abortion, even if you haven’t had your period yet. 

Abortion starts a new menstrual cycle. If a menstrual cycle is roughly 28 to 30 days, then ovulation will typically occur in the middle of that time frame. However, some people might have a shorter or longer timeframe. Some periods go back to normal 4 to 8 weeks after an abortion. If you’re not on birth control and haven’t had your period by 8 weeks, take a pregnancy test. If you want to resume having sex after your abortion, be sure to use prescription birth control or a barrier method like condoms. 

When should I start birth control after treatment?

You can start taking birth control pills, the patch, or the vaginal ring right away after an abortion. According to the American Council of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), all contraceptive methods are safe and effective immediately after abortion procedures and when otherwise medically appropriate for a patient. Some providers require a negative pregnancy test before inserting an intrauterine device (IUD) or starting other birth control methods, so talk to your provider about what they’d prefer when scheduling your appointment.

At Hey Jane, we can help you make informed choices with a seamless transition from your treatment to a personalized birth control option. If you don’t know what kind of birth control to use, our licensed providers can provide guidance over the phone. After you choose your birth control, they’ll send the prescription to your local pharmacy for easy pick-up. Looking to renew your birth control prescription or try something new? Hey Jane can help.

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Consistent birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it has to work with your lifestyle and medical history to actually be effective. Hey Jane can now help you find the right birth control option discreetly and conveniently. Whether it's birth control pills, the patch, shot, ring, or non-hormonal mehtods, our licensed providers can help you navigate 100+ options. They’ll review your medical history, chat with you about your current lifestyle, and discuss your birth control preferences to offer an option that’s right for you. Get started here.

What will sex be like after an abortion?

Sex after abortion is a personal experience and you may notice that your sex drive is different. Most people report the return of a normal sex drive following their abortion. Studies show that those who are satisfied with their romantic relationships are more likely to have sexual satisfaction. If you are ever in a situation that feels unsafe, talk to your primary care doctor or someone you trust. You may also experience increased bleeding after sex following your abortion. Bleeding after sex is not uncommon and may occur whether or not you’ve had an abortion, however, if your bleeding is heavy or is associated with heavy cramping or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, speak to your medical provider. Pain during sex, fever, or foul-smelling vaginal discharge are all signs you should speak with your doctor.

Preventing infections after sex

Even though vaginas are self cleaning, practicing good vaginal hygiene is crucial to preventing infections after sex, regardless of whether or not you’ve had an abortion. While sex isn’t the direct cause of infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), yeast infections, herpes, or bacterial vaginosis (BV), bacteria that can enter the vagina during unprotected sex or from using sex toys can contribute to infections. 

The good news is that there are things you can do before and after sex to help prevent vaginal infections. First, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. After sex, immediately empty your bladder. This can help you expel any bacteria that may have made its way into your urethra (where your pee comes out). Wipe front to back to avoid introducing new bacteria, and avoid douching or using scented tampons, pads, or vaginal deodorants.

If you’re experiencing symptoms linked to a vaginal infection, like itching, burning, or pain when you urinate or try to urinate, we can help. Hey Jane offers FDA-approved treatment for UTIs, BV, yeast infections, and herpes. This is the same treatment you’d get from a doctor or urgent care, but from the comfort of home. Speak with one of compassionate licensed providers who will analyze your symptoms and medical history to help diagnose your infection. They’ll create a treatment plan that’s right for you and send prescriptions to your local pharmacy for fast pickup if needed.

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Written by

Sally Rashid, RN BSN

Sally Rashid is a Registered Nurse and writer living in Detroit, Michigan. She has worked in reproductive care for a decade as a doula, nurse, and advocate for abortion access. Sally was a 2020 winner of Yes, And Laughter Lab's competitive incubation program for her work as writer and co-creator of Darling, a dark comedy about an abortion clinic at constant risk of closure. On top of writing for the beauty and healthcare industries, Sally is an all-around creative lady who loves music, making connections, and chilling with her two cats.

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