What is medical abortion?

Medical Abortion
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Pill abortion: Overview

A pill abortion is the use of medicines to end a pregnancy. Usually two medicines are used. You take one medicine. Within 2 days after taking the first medicine, you take the second medicine. The timing depends on how the doctor tells you to use them. The second medicine takes about 1 to 24 hours to work.

After the abortion, you may have bleeding, spotting, and cramping for the first 2 weeks.

You will take a pregnancy test at home or have an ultrasound or a lab test to make sure the abortion worked. You will be told when to do this. If the medicine didn't work, you may need to take a second dose of medicine or have an in-clinic abortion.

If you got and used abortion pills without working with a doctor (self-managed abortion), you should take a pregnancy test about a month after the abortion to make sure it worked.

You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk with your doctor about birth control methods.

Caring for yourself at home after a medical abortion

Carefully follow all of your doctor's instructions after you have had a medical abortion.

If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice.

  • Do not rinse the vagina with fluids (douche).

    This could increase your risk of infections that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.

  • Take any medicines your doctor has prescribed.

    Take them exactly as instructed.

  • Try returning to normal activities after 1 to 2 days.

    Most women can return to normal activities during this time.

  • Ask your doctor when it's okay to have sexual intercourse.
  • If you don't want to get pregnant, use birth control when you start having sex again.

What care might you need after a pill abortion?

You will take a pregnancy test at home or have an ultrasound or a lab test to make sure the abortion worked. You will be told when to do this.

If you got and used abortion pills without working with a doctor (self-managed abortion), you should take a pregnancy test about a month after the abortion to make sure it worked.

What are the risks of a pill abortion?

Pill abortion is safe and rarely causes any problems. Possible problems include:

  • Failure to end the pregnancy.
  • Tissue remaining in the uterus.
  • Moderate to severe bleeding.
  • Infection.

What is a pill abortion?

A pill abortion is the use of medicines to end a pregnancy. Usually two medicines are used. You take one medicine. Within 2 days after the first medicine, you take the second medicine. The timing depends on how the doctor tells you to use them.

What can you expect as you recover from a pill abortion?

After a pill abortion, you may have:

  • Bleeding and cramping that start within a few hours after you take the second medicine.
    • Cramps may be intense. You can take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) to help with pain. Do not take aspirin unless your doctor prescribed it.
    • Bleeding may be heavier than a regular period and may include some clots until the pregnancy has passed. The heaviest bleeding should stop 1 to 2 hours after you pass the pregnancy tissue.
  • Bleeding or spotting for up to 2 weeks.
  • Cramping for up to a few weeks.

Understanding self-managed pill abortion: Overview

In a self-managed pill abortion, you get and use abortion pills without working with a doctor. They are usually the same medicines used in a pill abortion done under a doctor's care.

People choose to self-manage a pill abortion for many reasons. Usually it's because they couldn't access abortion care through a doctor. This can happen if you can't get an abortion where you live. Or maybe telehealth abortion visits aren't available where you live. Or maybe you weren't able to get permission from your guardian.

People who have a self-managed pill abortion often wonder what to expect, what to watch out for, and how to know it worked. So if you learn about pill abortions, you will know how to take care of yourself. Be sure to call your doctor or get care if you're having problems after a self-managed abortion.

No matter where you live, if you are considering an abortion, you can reach out to Planned Parenthood. They can help you understand your options and how to access that care. There may be funds available to help pay for your abortion.

Why is a pill abortion done?

You might choose a pill abortion because compared to an in-clinic abortion:

  • It may be more private.
  • It may feel like a more natural process.
  • It can be done very early in pregnancy.
  • It doesn't require an in-clinic procedure.
  • It may help you feel more in control.

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