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Abortion: Emotional Recovery

Topic Overview

Deciding to end a pregnancy is never easy. Every woman has a different reason for an abortion, and emotional reactions are common. After an abortion, it is normal to feel relief, sadness, grief, or guilt. These feelings can change from woman to woman.

Natural hormonal changes that occur in your body during pregnancy are affected by an abortion. These hormonal changes can make you feel more emotional than usual. You may experience a spectrum of feelings, ranging from sadness, anger, and regret to guilt or relief. In fact, hormonal changes can cause depression symptoms, including sleeplessness (insomnia), sadness, tearfulness, anxiety, hopelessness, irritability, and poor concentration. Lasting symptoms require professional attention.

It is normal to go through a grieving process after an abortion, regardless of the reason for the abortion. The intensity and duration of emotional feelings vary from woman to woman and can be affected by the hormonal changes at that stage of pregnancy. Most women recover in a fairly short time.

A small number of women have prolonged emotional reactions after having an abortion. If you have prolonged feelings of sadness, guilt, or depression, be sure to talk about your feelings with a supportive family member or friend, a professional counselor, or your health professional.

Counseling early in a pregnancy is important for a positive outcome when choosing an abortion. Counseling can help you identify and manage your emotions about your choice. This can reduce the risk of having emotional problems months or years after the abortion.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rebecca H. Allen, MD, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised August 31, 2012

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