Medical Abortion: Understanding Abortion Using Pills
Medical abortion is a procedure used to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. It is the alternative to surgical abortion, especially for women in the early stages of pregnancy.
While it is possible to receive medical abortion pills over the counter or through online portals, it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider before doing so. With abortion still being taboo and the constantly changing laws around abortion, many women often have to resort to procuring abortion pills illegally.
When used correctly medication abortion is safe and effective at terminating an unwanted pregnancy.
What Is A Medical Abortion?
Medical abortion is the use of medication to terminate a pregnancy. The two pills used are mifepristone and misoprostol.
During your clinical visit, your healthcare provider will first instruct you to take mifepristone. This first step usually takes place at the clinic. Mifepristone lowers the levels of progesterone, by preventing its further release. It also limits the activation of the progesterone receptors. The declining levels of progesterone prevent the pregnancy from progressing further. Since the pregnancy is no longer viable, the uterus softens and begins to contract.
Your healthcare provider will then instruct you to take misoprostol within 24 to 48 hours after mifepristone. This step is often done at home. Misoprostol assists with softening your cervix. The softening of the uterus and cervix favors the progression of medical abortion.
Bleeding should begin within 24 hours of taking misoprostol. If it doesn’t it would be advisable to contact your abortion clinic.
The process of abortion usually takes 4 – 6 hours to complete. You will notice heavy bleeding and clots. Lighter bleeding can follow for several days to a week.
Are Abortion Pills Safe?
Medication abortion is safe when conducted in a clinical setting following the consultation of a medical professional.
Some women might experience adverse effects from abortion pills. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, extreme cramping, and intermittent bleeding patterns are the most common side effects recorded. Most of these effects subside in a day or two. Women can notice regular menstrual cycles begin about six to eight weeks following a medical abortion.
Only 2% of abortions face complications. In a significant portion of these cases, the complications are minor such as extended bleeding, pain, and infection.
Severe complications are rare with medical abortions. The primary concern with medical abortions is heavy bleeding lasting for more than two days. Ideally, after the first day, bleeding significantly subsides and stops within a week. If the bleeding is profuse even after 24 hours (soaking more than two maxi pads an hour), it is vital to consult with your doctor.
Another concern related to medical abortions is incomplete abortions. This is why two weeks after your medical abortion, you usually have a follow-up visit to confirm the completion of your abortion. A second dose of misoprostol or surgical intervention is considered for incomplete abortions.
For How Many Weeks of Pregnancy is Medication Abortion Effective?
Medical abortion can be considered for women who wish to terminate their pregnancy up to 12 weeks after their last menstrual period.
However, not all pregnancies falling within this 12-week time frame can resort to medication abortion. Such cases include ectopic pregnancies, use of IUDs, women with bleeding disorders, significant anemia, concurrent use of steroids, or allergies to either medication.
Medical abortions are most effective within the first eight weeks of pregnancy, with almost 98% effectiveness. This slowly declines as the pregnancy progresses. Chances of complications also increase if medical abortions are conducted later in pregnancy.
How Will I Feel After My Medical Abortion?
With the guidance of a healthcare professional, you should feel safe and have all your abortion-related queries attended to. Medical abortions allow women to make the personal choice to end their pregnancy within the safe environment of their homes.
The decision to have an abortion is often difficult. Studies have shown that women rarely regret their decision for having an abortion right after the procedure. This assurance increases as the years following the abortion progress.
Even so, it is always advisable to receive professional counseling before and after your medical abortion. Most of the concerns related to abortions are based on the procedure itself and recovery after. Since medical abortions are also not always freely accessible, legal methods to obtain a medical abortion can also be a concern.
Medication abortion is a safe way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. In an ideal situation, when you decide that you no longer wish to continue with your pregnancy (when it is less than 12 weeks), you consult with your healthcare provider. They can guide you through the process of abortion using pills. A mifepristone and misoprostol combination is used for medical abortion. Cramping and bleeding are expected for a day or two. When conducted early in pregnancy, medical abortions are 98% effective.