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risks and side effects of the abortion pill

Side Effects of The Abortion Pill

As with any medication, it is important to weigh the costs and benefits of taking mifepristone (the abortion pill) before making a decision about your pregnancy.

What is mifepristone?

Mifepristone is a drug that is approved by the FDA to block the pregnancy hormone, progesterone, from reaching the uterus, where your pregnancy is located. (Unless in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which an ultrasound can rule out).

The abortion pill, mifepristone is also called Plan C, RU486, a medication abortion, or a chemical abortion.

It is generally deemed safe for use through the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, though the further along a pregnancy is, the more likely you are to have complications.

Typically, providers will also prescribe Misoprostol, a drug that causes cramping and expels the contents of the uterus.

What are the side effects of the medication abortion pill?

After taking mifepristone, your body will block the flow of progesterone to the uterus. This ends the pregnancy as it is not able to continue without progesterone, and then, when misoprostol is taken, causes your body to expel the pregnancy.

Side effects cannot be avoided, though each woman will have a different experience. Some prefer to have an abortion in the privacy of their home with a trusted person with them, while others have said that the experience was not a good one and would have preferred a surgical procedure to be done under anesthesia.

During clinical trials, patients experienced the following side effects:

  • Nausea (51-75%)
  • Weakness (55-58%)
  • Fever/chills (48%)
  • Headache (41-44%)
  • Vomiting (37-48%)
  • Dizziness (39-41%)
  • Diarrhea (18-43%)

Serious Adverse Reactions

Between .04-4.6% of women during clinical trials experienced serious adverse reactions including needing transfusion, sepsis, an ER visit, hospitalization, hemorrhage, and infection without sepsis. (This number could be higher as many complications related to the abortion pill are often misdiagnosed as miscarriages)

In this study, researchers found that surgical intervention was required 2.5% of the time, and that the surgical intervention rate was significantly higher among women who were at gestations of greater than 7 weeks.

When to call a doctor

If you experience the following after taking the abortion pill, it is important to contact your healthcare provider right away:

  • fever of 100.4 F or higher that lasts for more than 4 hours
  • abdominal pain or nausea more than 24 hours after taking Misoprostol
  • heavy bleeding, meaning bleeding enough to soak through two thick, full size pads for two consecutive hours or longer. In about 1% of women, bleeding can be so heavy that a surgical procedure is needed.

Importantly, when you call the doctor, let them know that you took the abortion pill as the treatment for complications from the abortion pill are different than miscarriage. 

Who should not take the abortion pill?

According to the FDA, a pregnant patient should not take the abortion pill if they:

  • have an ectopic pregnancy
  • have adrenal problems
  • are currently being treated with long-term corticosteroid therapies
  • are on blood thinning medications or have a bleeding disorder
  • have an allergy to Misoprostol or mifepristone
  • have an IUD in place

Considerations before taking the abortion pill.

Before taking the abortion pill, it is important to know if you need a Rhesus immunization as this can affect the health of any future pregnancies.

It is also important to know if your pregnancy is ectopic as medication abortion will not treat ectopic pregnancy, which is considered a medical emergency. The abortion pill targets the uterus, and an ectopic pregnancy is outside the uterus, so the ectopic pregnancy would not be affected by the abortion pill. 

Finally, it’s important to know whether or not the pregnancy is viable, as nearly 26% of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage. If your pregnancy is not viable, you do not need to have an abortion.

How long will I bleed after taking Mifeprex?

Patients who take RU486 typically experience bleeding or spotting for an average of 9-16 days, with heavy bleeding for about 2 days. Up to 8% of patients will experience bleeding for up to 30 days.

Pre-Abortion Screening:

At Alpha Center, we believe that an informed decision is the best decision. This is why we provide pre-abortion screenings.

During your appointment, you will learn the following information about your pregnancy:

  1. If you are truly pregnant and the pregnancy test has been taken at the right time.
  2. If your pregnancy is viable. Nearly 1 in 4 pregnancies result in miscarriage. 
  3. If your pregnancy is ectopic. Nearly 1 in 50 pregnancies are ectopic, and need to be treated by a physician.
  4. If you have an STD, as untreated Chlamydia at the time of an abortion can lead to pelvic infection between 10-60% of the time

While none of these things are a requirement to have a medication abortion, by getting a pre-abortion screening,  you are making the most responsible choice for your health, and in the process, you can have greater peace of mind and know that you have all of the information you need to make the best choice for you.

Generally, appointments are available either the same or the next day. Request an appointment today