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Medical abortion, also known as the “abortion pill,” is a combination of drugs that end a pregnancy and expel it from the uterus. 

If you’re considering a medical abortion, learning all you can about this option is essential to ensure you make an informed decision. Read on to learn about how medical abortion works, the side effects and risks involved. If you want to speak to someone in person about your options, contact Pregnancy Care Center to talk with one of our caring team members.

How Does Medical Abortion Work?

Medical abortion is usually done at home, without the guidance of a physician, and it typically involves taking two different drugs. 

Mifepristone may be given as the first drug. It works by blocking progesterone in your body. This hormone is essential for pregnancy to grow; without it, the pregnancy will die. 

Misoprostol is taken next. This drug causes the uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy through your vagina. 

After taking these drugs, you’ll experience cramping and bleeding. Other common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever/chills

While the following risks are more rare, they are also more dangerous. Potential risks associated with medical abortion include:

  • Losing too much blood (also known as hemorrhaging)
  • Incomplete abortion (which is when parts of the pregnancy remain in your uterus. This can lead to infection.)
  • An ongoing pregnancy, which can be compromised due to the potentially harmful effects of misoprostol on a pregnancy

Ultrasound: An Important Next Step

Medical abortion is only FDA-approved for a pregnancy that’s less than 10 weeks old. If your pregnancy is further along, your risk of complications increases. This is why it’s essential to receive an ultrasound if you are considering a medical abortion.

An ultrasound will reveal the key information you need to stay healthy, including the age of your pregnancy and its location (which is essential for ruling out a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy). 

At Pregnancy Care Center, we know that facing an unplanned pregnancy can feel overwhelming, and we’re here for you. We offer free pregnancy resources—including a free ultrasound—that can help you feel supported and empowered to make an informed decision.. Contact us today for a free, confidential appointment.

*We offer accurate information about all your pregnancy options but do not offer or refer for abortion services. The information presented on this website is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional or medical advice.