Post Abortion

Question

I am 19 and I have had my period for exactly nine days now, (in February). I never go for more than seven days. But last month (in January) I only went for three days. I am scared to death that I will go that long this month too. On the first couple of days it was really heavy and I was passing big chunks of blood. I have been having these really bad cramps since I started my period and it feels like my body is coming in two pieces. I have tried to take Pamprin, Midol, and Tylenol to ease these cramps but it doesn’t seem to work. I recently [in December of 2003] had an abortion for personal reasons. I had a pap smear at that time too. He said he would call me if anything was wrong, but he never did so I am guessing that everything was fine. And the doctor put me on birth control. I was using the patch but I stopped using them because they were expensive and they didn’t fit my life style any more. Could this be the reason of my prolonged period and cramps? I am in terrible pain. Please help me. Is this something that I should be concerned about? I didn’t wait the whole 4 weeks to start having sex again, I only waited a week and three days.  So what could be wrong and why am I having such a prolonged period? Is this something that I should be concerned with?

Answer

Last Updated: June 14, 2013
You stated in your e-mail that you had an abortion in December, a light period in January, and a very heavy, prolonged painful period in February. The first thing that is important is to make sure that you have had a check-up after your abortion. This will rule out infection or retained tissue. If your exam is normal, be aware that it is common for a few periods after an abortion to be somewhat abnormal, so what you are experiencing may not indicate there is a physical problem. Pain, cramps, and a heavy period can be due to stress and temporary hormonal problems. Occasionally having sex too early after an abortion can cause an infection; again, a check-up will rule out this possibility.

I am worried that you say that you are in “terrible pain”, and note that you stopped using the birth control patch and started having sex again soon after your abortion. Often it is hard to separate physical and emotional pain after an abortion. Very often women suffer grief after an abortion, and immediately get pregnant again to fill up the emptiness they are feeling. This is so common that it is called a “replacement pregnancy”. Young women often do not realize they are doing this, and unwittingly get themselves into the exact same situation of a crisis pregnancy. Also, new research has shown that depression and even suicide after abortion are much more common than previously thought.

I would encourage you to abstain from sex at this time, take care of yourself, and get the physical and emotional healing that you need. Throwing yourself back into a sexual relationship will almost certainly create more problems. A wonderful organization that assists women in post-abortion healing is Project Rachel. On their web site at www.hopeafterabortion.com under the section on finding help, there are referral numbers for free counseling in all regions of the USA. Project Rachel is a ministry of the Catholic Church, but is open to all women and is not judgmental in its approach to helping women after abortion. The emphasis is on God’s forgiveness and healing.

I would not recommend using hormonal contraception (pills, patches or injections) in your situation. Abstinence is the safest way to avoid pregnancy in this period of your life. You deserve to have your next pregnancy in a situation in which you and the father of the baby love one another and are committed to each other in marriage. This would be your healthiest and best goal.

Please excuse me if it seems like I am preaching to you or if what I am saying does not fit your individual situation.

Dr Mary Davenport

Answered By:

Mary Davenport, MD, MS
Mary Davenport, MD, FACOG, an obstetrician/gynecologist from the Oakland Region of California, offers telehealth services over MyCatholicDoctor.com She graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed her residency at UC San Diego. Dr. Davenport is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and serves on the Advisory Board of the California Association of Natural Family Planning.

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