How Safe is the Abortion Pill?

There are two methods to end a pregnancy: Surgical abortion and medication abortion. Most people think of medications as having minimal risks, but the abortion pill has many risks you’ll want to be aware of as you consider your options.

What is the abortion pill?

Before you learn about the risks of the abortion pill, it’s important to understand what the pill is and how it works.

The “abortion pill” is commonly referred to as medication abortion and actually involves taking two drugs in pill form.

The first drug is called mifepristone and it blocks your body’s production of progesterone. This causes the pregnancy to stop growing.

The second drug is called misoprostol and it causes your uterus to contract and expel the fetus. This completes the medication abortion.

What are the risks of the abortion pill?

As with any medication, there are risks associated with the abortion pill. The Mayo Clinic lists the following potential risks of the abortion pill:

  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
  • An ongoing unwanted pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

If you take the abortion pill and experience any of those risks, you should seek medical attention. 

It’s important to note that the FDA has only approved the use of mifepristone to end a pregnancy in the first ten weeks of gestation. Women who take it later in pregnancy can experience more extreme risks to their health and will also likely experience an incomplete abortion.

What are side effects of the abortion pill?

In addition to the risks listed above, the Mayo Clinic also lists the following side effects that women can experience in reaction to the abortion pill:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Sore breasts
  • Fatigue

It’s important to know ahead of time what side effects are common and possible after an abortion so you can make a well-informed decision.

What should I do before taking the abortion pill?

Before you take the abortion pill, it’s important to confirm your pregnancy with a pregnancy test and ultrasound.

Some women receive a positive pregnancy test but naturally miscarry shortly afterward. An abortion will only end a viable pregnancy and you should seek medical treatment if you’ve naturally miscarried. An ultrasound will help you determine whether or not your pregnancy is viable.

An ultrasound will also help you date your pregnancy so you know exactly how far along you are. It’s dangerous to take the abortion pill outside of the FDA-prescribed window, and even women who regularly track their periods can misdate their pregnancy.

Finally, an ultrasound will help show the location of your pregnancy. Any pregnancy located outside of the uterus (called an ectopic pregnancy) is nonviable but also dangerous to your health. You’ll need to see immediate medical care if you have an ectopic pregnancy.

Free Pregnancy Testing & Ultrasounds

We offer free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds at First Coast Women’s Services so you can get the answers you need before determining whether to take the abortion pill or not.

We know an unplanned and undesired pregnancy can cause extra stress, and we’re here to provide the support and resources you need as you gather information and weigh all your options. Schedule your free and confidential appointment today!