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  • Writer's pictureMosaic Health

What Is a Medical Abortion?

A medical abortion goes by many different names—chemical abortion, the abortion pill, and RU-486. It is an early-pregnancy termination method that involves taking two drugs to terminate and expel a pregnancy.

Keep reading to learn more about medical abortion, potential risks and side effects, and what you should do before taking the abortion pill.

What Is a Medical Abortion?

The FDA has approved a two-drug protocol called medical abortion (or the abortion pill) to terminate early pregnancies.

Only pregnancies that are less than 10 weeks along can be terminated via medical abortion. If attempted after 10 weeks, serious complications can occur like incomplete abortion. 

A medical abortion begins by taking mifepristone at the abortion clinic. Mifepristone ends the pregnancy by blocking progesterone, a hormone needed for the pregnancy to grow.

Mifepristone is followed by the second drug, misoprostol, taken at least 24 hours later at home. Misoprostol causes uterine cramping and contractions to expel the fetal tissue.

The medical abortion process can be very painful and accompanied by heavy bleeding and passing blood clots.

What Are the Side Effects of a Medical Abortion?

According to Mayo Clinic, the following are side effects of medical abortion:

  1. Nausea

  2. Vomiting

  3. Fever

  4. Chills

  5. Diarrhea

  6. Headache

Additionally, you may also experience vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping.

What Are the Risks of a Medical Abortion?

Mayo Clinic also lists the following risks of a medical abortion:

  1. Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion

  2. An ongoing unwanted pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work

  3. Heavy and prolonged bleeding

  4. Infection

  5. Fever

  6. Digestive system discomfort

Septic shock is also a serious, life-threatening risk of medical abortion. The National Institutes of Health list the following signs of septic shock following a medical abortion:

  1. Very high or very low body temperature

  2. Heavy bleeding

  3. Severe pain

  4. Cool, pale arms and legs

  5. Feelings of confusion, restlessness, or fatigue

  6. Shaking chills

  7. Low blood pressure, especially when standing

  8. Inability to urinate

  9. Heart palpitations

  10. Rapid, pounding heart rate

  11. Difficult, rapid breathing with shortness of breath

Septic shock is a medical emergency, so you should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following.

Before a Medical Abortion

Before considering a medical abortion, you should get an ultrasound.

An ultrasound scan will reveal where your pregnancy is located and how far along it is.

Location is important because the medical abortion protocol is not approved for ectopic pregnancies (located outside the uterus). In fact, these pregnancies are non-viable and pose a real threat to your health, so they must be treated immediately by a doctor.

We offer free and confidential ultrasounds so you can have the answers you need to make an informed decision. 

Contact us to schedule your appointment today. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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