Women interested in abortion have two different abortion options, medical or surgical abortion. But what is a medical abortion? How does it work? How do you know if you are eligible? What are the risks? Pregnancy Center West is here to answer all your questions.

What Is a Medical Abortion?

You might have heard of medical abortion, referred to as the abortion pill. Medical abortion is a series of two drugs used to terminate a pregnancy. The two drugs are taken up to 48 hours apart. First, mifepristone is taken to end the body’s support of the pregnancy. This causes the embryo or fetus to detach from the wall of the uterus. Second, the woman takes misoprostol, which causes the uterus to begin contracting (or squeezing) to force the pregnancy out of the uterus with bleeding and cramping.

It is normal for a woman to experience the following side effects of medical abortion:

  • Cramping
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Eligibility For Medical Abortion

Before an abortion, a woman must be screened to see if the medical abortion is a good fit for her. This is determined through a physical, a pregnancy test, and an ultrasound. 

A woman should inform the provider of her medical history during her physical. Things that can exclude a woman from eligibility for medical abortion include the following:

  • Blood clotting disorder or anemia
  • Adrenal failure
  • Long-term corticosteroid use
  • Current intrauterine device (IUD)

Ultrasound will be used to determine three more eligibility requirements: viability, the date, and the location of the pregnancy.

  • Viability- Miscarriage occurs in around 20% of pregnancies. Viability is determined to avoid unnecessary medical procedures. Many miscarriages do not need intervention.
  • Date- How long a woman has been pregnant is another eligibility component. The FDA has approved the drugs used in medical abortion for pregnancies up to 10 weeks. For pregnancies further along, medical abortion is not recommended.
  • Location- Ultrasound will rule out ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition where the embryo implants outside the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy needs immediate intervention to protect the woman’s health, but medical abortion does not treat the condition.

Risks of Medical Abortion

Like any other medical procedure, women considering abortion should be aware of the associated risks. Understanding the risks assists a woman in prioritizing her health and safety. The risks of medical abortion include:

  • Incomplete abortion
  • Heavy bleeding that will not stop
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and digestive pain
  • Allergic reaction to the medications

Women will need to monitor themselves for the following signs and symptoms of a complication and reach out to medical support if they experience any:

  • Severe bleeding — soaking more than two thick pads within an hour
  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • Going two months without getting your period
  • Experiencing symptoms of pregnancy

Want To Know More?

Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment, including a free pregnancy test and ultrasound.