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Medication abortion utilizing a regimen of two oral medications was approved by the FDA over 20 years ago and has since been used by women in the United States as a safe alternative to surgical abortion. Many women prefer taking medication to terminate a pregnancy because the process is similar to a miscarriage and can be completed in the comfort of home.
What should I expect?
If you choose to come into the office for a medication abortion, you will have an ultrasound to determine the location and gestational age of your pregnancy. We will also perform a Hemoglobin (finger stick) to ensure that you are not anemic.
If you are eligible (10 weeks gestational age or less) your clinician will review all of the risks of having a medication abortion. Once your questions have been answered, your clinician will give you the first medication to take in the office.
This first pill that is taken in the office will stop your pregnancy from growing and start the process of the abortion. At some point that is convenient for you in the next 24-48 hours, you will place 4 tablets of the second medication in your cheeks (two on each side) and let them dissolve. Usually within an hour of taking the medication, you will start cramping and bleeding, more severely than during your menses. Most women pass the pregnancy within four hours; however the bleeding can continue irregularly for up to six weeks, even if the abortion was successful.
At a follow-up visit in one week, we will perform a second ultrasound to confirm that you are no longer pregnant.
How safe is medication abortion?
There are risks to taking a medication abortion. Most women experience bleeding and cramping, more severe than a menses. The pain usually resolves with over-the-counter pain relievers after 3-4 hours. The most common risk of medication abortion is that the pills might not work. 2-5% of women using medication to end a pregnancy need additional evaluation or treatment, such as a surgical procedure. There is also the risk of heavy vaginal bleeding or infection. If you bleed enough to soak through two thick full-size sanitary pads per hour, for two hours in a row, or if you have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher that lasts for more than 4 hours, contact your clinician right away.
Is a medication abortion effective?
Medication abortion is safe and effective for 95-98% of women. 2-5% of women taking a medication abortion will require an additional intervention to treat heavy bleeding or incomplete abortion. Sometimes a repeat dose of medication is sufficient, but if the pregnancy is continuing to grow, your clinician will recommend a surgical procedure. This surgical procedure is called a D+C and can be performed at many of our offices. There is also a small risk of infection (< 2%). At FPA, we have a clinician on call 24 hours, 7 days a week to answer any questions or concerns that you may have during the process. We are here for you every step of the way!
CLICK HERE to view our medication abortion guide.
CLICK HERE to view common side effects following the procedure.
CLICK HERE to view bleeding levels.