What Are the Risks of the Abortion Pill? 

The moment you see a positive pregnancy test, your life will change forever. For some women, this moment brings tears of joy, for others, tears of anxiety and worry.  For women facing unplanned pregnancies, it can be tempting to wish it all away or simply push it under the rug. After all, that’s what the abortion pill is for, right? 

While the abortion pill seems like an easy fix to the problem of an unexpected pregnancy, it’s essential to remember that abortion is a serious medical procedure and can come with many intense side effects and risks with lasting impacts.

What is the abortion pill and what does it do?

The abortion pill, also known as a medical abortion, is a two-pill process that ends pregnancy in the first 11 weeks of gestation.

The process of a medical abortion starts with a pill called Mifepristone. This pill stops the production of the pregnancy hormone called progesterone. Progesterone is created by the body to help sustain and grow the pregnancy in the womb. The second pill, Misoprostol, is taken once the pregnancy has ended. Misoprostol causes contractions and forces the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. 

While the first step of medical abortion is typically done at a doctor’s office, the second pill is taken at home, leaving the woman to complete the abortion on her own. 

What are the side effects of the abortion pill? 

Women who undergo a medical abortion process can expect to experience intense cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They should also be prepared to experience some heavy bleeding that will include large blood clots — sometimes as big as a lemon — containing the pregnancy tissue. 

What are the risks of the abortion pill?

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Undergoing a medical abortion while infected with chlamydia can increase your chance of PID by 23%. PID is a serious condition that can lead to infertility, future ectopic pregnancies, abscesses, and chronic pain in the pelvic area.1

It is essential to receive STD testing from your local pregnancy center prior to scheduling an appointment for an abortion.

Depression, Anxiety, and other Mental Health Issues

Abortion has been proven to cause new mental health issues and/or aggravate or trigger existing conditions like depression, anxiety, and other trauma-related problems.2

Abortion Complications can Lead to Fertility Issues 

Abortion complications such as infections or scarring of the uterine wall have been known to cause fertility issues in future pregnancies. Studies have linked the abortion pill with issues like spontaneous preterm birth and ectopic pregnancies.3

Infections Caused by Incomplete Abortions 

Serious infections can occur in cases where the pregnancy tissue is not fully expelled from the uterus. These infections can lead to hemorrhaging and, in serious cases, death.  

In addition to these side-effects and risks, The Mayo Clinic suggests that women with the following health conditions should not use the abortion pill under any circumstance:

– Use of an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control

– Ectopic pregnancies 

– Allergies to Misoprostol or Mifepristone 

– Heart, blood vessel, liver, kidney, or lung diseases

– Use of blood thinners or particular steroid medications 

In addition, women should not take the abortion pill if they don’t have easy access to emergency healthcare in the case of complications.

What should I do before I schedule an appointment for an abortion?

With any medical process, especially one as serious as abortion, you are entitled to information and knowledge regarding the procedure.

Here at First Coast Women’s Services, we are passionate about providing women with resources and education to help them make an informed choice regarding their unplanned pregnancy.

Schedule Free Services

Part of making an informed decision is gathering all of the information you need on your unique pregnancy. We provide no-cost pregnancy healthcare services to help you make the decision that’s best for you, without the burden and pressure of finances.

1. Westergaard L, Phillipsen T, Scheibel J (1982). “Significance of cervical Chlamydia trachomatis infection in postabortal pelvic inflammatory disease.” Obstetrics and Gynecology, 68(5): 668-90; Ovigstad E, et al. (1983). “Pelvic inflammatory disease associated with Chlamydia trachomatis infection after therapeutic abortion.” Br J Vener Dis, 59: 189-92; Heisterberg L, et al. (1987). “The role of vaginal secretory immunoglobulin a, gardnerella vaginalis, anaerobes, and Chlamydia trachomatis in post abortal pelvic inflammatory disease.” Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 66(2): 99-102.

2. Reardon DC. The abortion and mental health controversy: A comprehensive literature review of common ground agreements, disagreements, actionable recommendations, and research opportunities. SAGE open medicine. 2018;6: 1–38. 10.1177/2050312118807624 . [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

3. Bhattacharya, S. et al. Reproductive outcomes following induced abortion: a national register-based cohort study in Scotland. BMJ Open. 2, (2012).