What Are the Side Effects of the Abortion Pill?

When facing an unexpected pregnancy, there are three options — parenting, abortion, and adoption. What you choose to do regarding your pregnancy will have a lasting impact on your life and it’s important that you take the time you need to gather information so you can feel empowered to make the decision that’s best for you and your future.

Here at Mosaic Pregnancy & Health Centers, we’re passionate about providing women with facts, resources, and medically accurate information on all of their pregnancy options, including abortion.

What is the abortion pill?

Before you can make an informed choice about the abortion pill, you’ll need to know exactly what it is!

The abortion pill, also known as a medical abortion, is a means of ending a pregnancy through a chemical process. The abortion pill is a two-step process that is administered within the first 11 weeks of gestation.

The first pill, Mifepristone, is administered at a doctor’s office and stops the production of the pregnancy hormone called progesterone that helps the developing pregnancy grow and thrive within the womb. The second pill, Misoprostol, is taken at home about 24-48 hours after the first pill. Misoprostol will cause the woman to start contractions and eventually expel the fetus. 

What can I expect after taking the abortion pill?

The process of completing a medical abortion at home is similar to an early miscarriage and can be very emotional and sometimes traumatic.1 Women can expect to begin cramping and bleeding between 1 and 4 hours after taking Misoprostol.

Once bleeding begins, you can expect to pass large blood clots that will include the fetus. These clots can sometimes be as large as a lemon.

What are the side effects of the abortion pill? 

It’s key to remember that the abortion pill is a medical procedure and can be accompanied by several uncomfortable side effects.

Women may experience the following symptoms: 

  • Intense cramping and abdominal pain

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting 

  • Headaches

  • Heavy and persistent bleeding

Are there any long-term risks associated with the abortion pill?  

While it’s normal to experience some of the above side effects, there are a few other serious risks to consider. 

In some cases, the abortion pill will fail to fully expel the fetus from the uterus. This is considered an “incomplete abortion” and will require emergency surgery.

If an incomplete abortion goes untreated, serious infections can occur. 

For some women, the risks related to the abortion pill are emotional in nature. The process of completing an abortion at home can be accompanied by feelings of trauma and isolation, which can lead to lasting mental health repercussions, such as depression and anxiety.2

What do I need to know before I consider an abortion? 

Before considering an abortion, it is important to have all the information necessary to make an informed decision.

First, schedule an appointment with Mosaic Pregnancy & Health Centers to confirm your pregnancy with a no-cost, lab-quality pregnancy test. 

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, your nurse will help you schedule an appointment for a no-cost and confidential ultrasound scan.

Maybe you’re wondering why you would need an ultrasound if you’re considering an abortion. Ultrasounds will help you gather vital information regarding your unique pregnancy — including its location, age, and viability, and it will also ensure you don’t have any medical conditions that will make an abortion particularly dangerous for you. 

After your ultrasound, you’ll be offered a safe space to process your options and make a decision that’s best for you!

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  1. Broen AN, Moum T, Bødtker AS, Ekeberg O. The course of mental health after miscarriage and induced abortion: a longitudinal, fiveyear follow-up study. BMC Med. 2005;3:18.

  2. 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]