Can a Doctor Tell if You've Taken an Abortion Pill?

When seeking abortion care, women may sometimes question whether or not they can keep their decision private. Fear, stigma, and legislation around abortion care lead people to wonder if taking an abortion pill makes them visible in any way.

In this article, we'll discuss the abortion pill – and how its use might be discovered by a medical professional – to help you make informed healthcare choices with confidence.

What to understand about medical abortions

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The abortion pill is a safe, effective way to have an abortion. It typically involves using two separate medications, mifepristone, and misoprostol, over 48 hours. It is a non-invasive method that allows more women to self-administer abortion pills in the comfort of their homes. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration recently expanded access to abortion care by allowing mifepristone prescriptions to be filled by mail.

The abortion pill can be a highly effective method for ending a pregnancy. While the use of the abortion pill will likely go undetected, it is important to understand when a medical professional may discover it has been taken. This is primarily a concern for women who choose to keep their abortion private for personal or legal reasons

How can a doctor tell you've used an abortion pill?

A doctor can tell if an abortion has occurred when looking for specific signs during a physical examination.

  • Symptoms. The doctor might inquire about symptoms associated with abortion, such as bleeding, cramping, and nausea;
  • Tests. More invasive tests may be conducted, such as blood tests to detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is only present during pregnancy;
  • Ultrasound. If an ultrasound is performed, the physician may be able to see physical signs indicative of abortion, such as the size of the uterus or—for incomplete abortions—the remains of the fetus.

However, unless you have stated the use of the abortion pill, or (for vaginal administration) pill remains are observed, a doctor will not distinguish a spontaneous abortion from one managed with the abortion pill.

How to avoid the signs of using the abortion pill?

The clinical presentation of self-managed abortion is indistinguishable from spontaneous abortion – also known as a miscarriage. Unless women mention using the pill to the doctor, or if remains are observed from vaginal insertion, it is not likely your doctor will know for certain. However, much cannot be done to mask the signs of an abortion, especially if you need follow-up care to address medical complications. Women considering the abortion pill must identify how they may access an abortion that is both safe and legal.

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While abortion pill procedures are frequently used to terminate pregnancies safely and effectively, women who want to keep an abortion private should understand all related risks and side effects and the state's laws on abortion. Consider reaching out to a reputable clinic or group that understands abortion laws in your state to learn how to safely and legally access medical abortions.

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