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A medical (or medication) abortion is an alternative to surgical abortion. It is non-invasive. It uses a combination of two drugs (“pills”) to induce an abortion.

(1) Mifepristone – given by a healthcare provider in his/her office. It blocks the progesterone in a woman, which will cause the uterine lining to thin and the fetus to detach from the uterus.  (2) Misoprostol – taken at home 24-48 hours later. It causes the uterus to contract, bleed, and expel the fetus.

Typical side-effects after taking both drugs:

  • Bleeding and cramping – starting 1-4 hours after taking second pill.
  • Heavy bleeding and clots for several hours (a good supply of pads will be needed).
  • Low fever and chills for about a day after taking second pill.
  • Tiredness, nausea, and dizziness.
  • Light vaginal bleeding may occur for several weeks after abortion.
  • Emotions may vary more than normal.

Prior to a medical abortion, a physical exam and health history evaluation by a healthcare provider is required*. This usually includes:

  • Physical exam.
  • Confirmation of pregnancy.
  • Ultrasound to view fetus in uterus, determine length of pregnancy, and rule out ectopic pregnancy.
  • Blood and urine tests.
  • Explanation of procedure, risks, and side-effects.
  • Scheduling post-procedure follow-up for 2-3 weeks. This is an important appointment to keep and to let the healthcare provider know how your recovery was.

*Some states have already or may in the future relax/eliminate some of these requirements.


US Food and Drug Administration
Postmarket drug safety information for patients and providers Silver Spring, MD:FDA;2018. Available at: Providers/ucm11132.htm.
ACOG Practice Bulletin Number 225 Creinin, Mitchell D. MD;
Grossman, Daniel A. MD
Committee on Practice Bulletins-Gynecology Society of Family Planning
Obstetrics and Gynecology: October 2020-Vol.136 Issue 4 p.e31-e47

For questions and more information contact Pregnancy Health Center (Camdenton MO).

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