Understanding Medical Abortion: Procedure, Risks, and Considerations

Medical abortion, also known as the abortion pill, is an option for terminating a pregnancy using a combination of medications.

Key takeaways:
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    A medical abortion, also known as the abortion pill, is a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy by using medication.
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    This approach to abortion typically works by taking two pills within 72 hours of each other; Misoprostol is taken first, and then Mifepristone 24–48 hours later.
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    The medications work to block progesterone receptors, soften the cervix, and induce contractions in order to induce labor and remove the contents from the uterus.
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    A medical abortion is generally conducted under supervision to ensure safety and success.

With a non-invasive procedure and a high success rate, this type of procedure can be especially attractive to those looking for an alternative to traditional surgical abortions. In this article, we will cover information about medical abortion, how it works, what to expect, potential risks, and what to consider before requesting a medical abortion.

Medical abortion – course and procedure:

Medical abortion involves using medications to terminate an existing pregnancy. This typically includes the use of the drugs mifepristone, misoprostol, or a combination of the two. The first medication, mifepristone, blocks progesterone receptors to start the termination of the pregnancy.

The second medication, misoprostol, which can be taken orally or inserted vaginally depending on medical advice, further causes uterine contractions. These contractions help with removing the contents of the uterus and completing the medical abortion procedure. Mifepristone and misoprostol which are taken at separate intervals (24 – 48 hrs apart) have been found to be over 95% effective in terminating a pregnancy.

What to expect from a medical abortion

Depending on the medical provider and medical history, a medical abortion may require multiple clinic visits for medication administration, follow-up care, or both. You may be given the option to take the medication at home.

During a medical abortion, cramping and bleeding can generally be expected. While this can vary from person to person, many people experience a stronger menstrual cramp-type pain, including those further along in pregnancy. The bleeding might begin immediately or not start until several days after taking the medication. Patients may also experience nausea and vomiting, fever, fatigue, or diarrhea during a medical abortion.

Risks of having a medical abortion

As with other methods of abortion, medical abortion also has a few risks. It could lead to incomplete pregnancy termination, where part of the pregnancy remains in the uterus. If this occurs, a second procedure may be necessary for its successful removal.

There is an increased chance of experiencing heavy bleeding, infections, and a risk of damaging the uterine lining, which could lead to medical complications later down the line such as infertility or ectopic pregnancies.

In addition to medical risks, there are psychological consequences such as guilt and regret that may follow an abortion, including medical abortion. While the vast majority of people experience relief in the years following their abortion, experiencing negative feelings is normal and valid. It’s important to receive proper support from family and medical professionals to help cope with the emotional aftermath of having a medical abortion.

Overall, the risks of medical abortion are rare in comparison to those of having a surgical abortion. Risks can typically be managed through medical intervention if they do arise.

Medical abortion – things to know before:

When considering medical abortion, it is important to first familiarize yourself with the medical procedure, including what will be done during and after the procedure, how long it will take, pain management advice, and risks and potential complications. You should also make sure that medical abortion is legal in your current jurisdiction, and ensure you have a safe and suitable environment for recovery at home or an alternate location.

In addition, always speak with medical professionals and receive proper counseling before making an informed decision regarding medical abortion. Let them know about medical issues or concerns you may have prior to undergoing medical treatment.

Medical abortions are a safe and effective way to terminate a pregnancy and may be preferred over other methods for medical or personal reasons. You must understand what to expect with a medical abortion, the potential risks you may face, and the services you can access for support. Always talk with your healthcare provider to make an informed decision about whether a medical abortion is a right option for you.


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