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Abortion Pill

About the Abortion Pill

The Abortion Pill (also called Mifeprex, Mifepristone, or RU-486) provides women with a medical alternative to surgical abortion.

  • Mifepristone, in conjunction with misoprostol (also called Cytotec) was approved for use as an abortifacient by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 28, 2000.
  • This antiprogesterone drug blocks receptors of progesterone, a key hormone in the establishment and maintenance of human pregnancy.
  • Mifepristone induces spontaneous abortion when administered in early pregnancy and followed by a dose of misoprostol, a prostaglandin.

How the Abortion Pill Works

The Abortion Pill procedure involves the oral ingestion of mifepristone after ultrasound verification of a pregnancy nine weeks gestation or less. 24 to 36 hours later, misoprostol is inserted into the cheeks, held in place for 30 minutes, and then swallowed with water. In most cases, a miscarriage occurs within 24 hours. 

If bleeding does not occur after 24 hours, the misoprostol insertion is repeated. Usually bleeding is like a spontaneous miscarriage and bleeding or spotting may occur for up to two weeks or longer. An ultrasound will be used to verify the successful termination of the pregnancy.

Results and side effects

If the abortion does not occur with medication alone, a surgical abortion must be performed. This situation occurs in less than 1 percent of patients. The primary advantage of the abortion pill lies in the ability to end the pregnancy in the privacy of the patient's own home. Furthermore, the theoretical potential for surgical complications is lessened.

Side effects of mifepristone and misoprostol can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heavy vaginal bleeding, headache, dizziness, backache and fatigue. Occasionally, the cramping may become quite severe, particularly when the tissue is being expelled.

The abortion pill is limited to patients nine weeks pregnant or less, as verified by ultrasound. No sexual intercourse is allowed for two weeks after your abortion. The patient must agree to undergo a surgical abortion if the abortion is not completed with the pill alone.

Safety of the Abortion Pill

Mifepristone is as safe as a surgical abortion. The medication abortion is a completely noninvasive procedure and does not require anesthesia. However, as in surgical abortion, risks of hemorrhage do exist. In rare cases, the incomplete passage of tissue requires a surgical evacuation.

Serious infection can occur in about 1 per 1,000 women and death from infection occurs in less than 1 per 100,000 women. Therefore, if you develop a flu-like condition including sluggishness, weakness or muscle aches with or without fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol (Cytotec), it is essential that you call us immediately. 

As a means of helping to prevent the already low chance of infection, we will dispense a one-week supply of doxycycline, a more effective version of tetracycline. You will take one pill by mouth twice a day for one week, beginning at the end of your next meal and follow instructions regarding proper use of the drug. Please tell us if you may be allergic or have other abnormal reactions to this medication.

Efficacy & Acceptability

Approximately 750,000 women in the U.S. and millions worldwide have chosen the Abortion Pill. It is effective more than 99% of the time. This means that 1 woman out of 100 will need a surgical procedure to terminate the pregnancy or to stop heavy bleeding.

Misoprostol (or Cytotec) is a prostaglandin drug. It had previously received FDA approval for use in the prevention of ulcers in high-risk patients taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.

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Taking the first pill
You will take the first pill, mifepristone, in the clinic. The clinic will give you the misoprostol, antibiotics and a prescription for pain medication to take home. Though most women have no side effects after taking mifepristone, some possible side effects are nausea, headache, bleeding and cramping. Some women even pass the pregnancy with mifepristone alone, though this is rare.
Day 2: Take Misoprostol
The clinic will give you a time frame in which to take the misorostol. The exact time is your choice, depending on work, school, childcare or other responsibilities. Plan to be at home for at least 12 hours after taking misoprostol. Expect to have bleeding, blood clots and cramping. Some other possible side effects of misoprostol are nausea, diarrhea and an elevated temperature. The clinic will give you pain medication to help you through this time. You are free to go to work or school the day after you take misoprostol. You will also be given an instruction sheet with our 24-hour emergency number.