If you’re facing an unexpected pregnancy and planning on taking the abortion pill, you may wonder what the process involves.
As you prepare to take the abortion pill, remember while it may feel casual, it’s a serious medical procedure with potential negative side effects and risks.
How does the abortion pill end a pregnancy?
The abortion pill—also called a medication abortion—is a two-step process using the drugs Mifepristone and Misoprostol to end a pregnancy and expel it from the body. Women commonly take the first pill in the clinic, and the second at home 24 to 48 hours later.
The first medication, Mifepristone, prevents the body from producing the pregnancy hormone called progesterone. Without progesterone, the pregnancy will not survive.
Once the pregnancy has ended, the second drug, Misoprostol, will cause contractions and expel the pregnancy tissue from the uterus.
When can the abortion pill be taken?
The abortion pill should not be taken if your pregnancy is further than 10 weeks along. If used past this point, the medication may not be effective in ending the pregnancy and expelling the tissue from the uterus, causing an incomplete abortion and other potentially harmful conditions, such as a serious infection.
How will I feel after taking the abortion pill?
While every patient’s experience will differ when taking the abortion pill, there are common side effects and risks to be aware of prior to beginning the medication.
Because the abortion pill process typically ends at home without medical supervision, it’s important to be aware of what to expect and how to identify signs of complications.
Women experience heavy bleeding and cramping as the pregnancy ends and the body expels the tissue. This can last several hours, but the exact timing depends on the individual woman. In addition to cramping and bleeding, other common side effects of the abortion pill include:
- Fever and chills
Along with the above common side effects, you might face more serious health risks, including:
- Infections and sepsis
Mental health and the abortion pill
In addition to these physical side effects and risks, some women experience mental health complications due to their at-home abortions. A recent study found post-abortive women reported experiencing “significant mental health issues that [were] caused, triggered, aggravated, or complicated by their abortion experience.” 1
If you are planning on taking the abortion pill, remember this is a serious medical process and may impact both your physical and emotional well-being for years to follow.
How do I know if the abortion pill is right for me?
If you’re still not sure if the abortion pill is right for you, we can help. First Care Clinic is here to empower you with resources and information so you can make a choice you’re confident in.
We provide free and confidential options counseling, information on abortion procedures, and medical services including lab-quality pregnancy testing, ultrasound scans, and STI testing.
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- Reardon DC. The abortion and mental health controversy: A comprehensive literature review of common ground agreements, disagreements, actionable recommendations, and research opportunities. SAGE open medicine. 2018;6: 1–38. 10.1177/2050312118807624 . [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]