Frequently asked questions about medical abortion (click to reveal answer):
A medical abortion ends pregnancy by using two different types of medication: mifepristone and misoprostol. It is like an induced miscarriage. Medical abortions are available at Women’s Health Clinic for people who are up to 9 weeks pregnant.
For some people, it is not safe to take the medications needed to have a medical abortion. If you have the following health concerns, a medical abortion is not a safe option for you:
If you are currently breastfeeding, it is safe to have a medical abortion. However, breastfeeding after misoprostol may cause diarrhea in infants within 24 hours.
Step 1: After a health care provider determines that a medical abortion is safe and appropriate, a pregnant person will swallow one tablet of mifepristone, as prescribed. This blocks the hormone progesterone, a hormone needed to continue pregnancy. It makes the uterus contract, softens the cervix, and may cause bleeding. For a very small percentage of people, the pregnancy is passed at this stage.
Step 2: The health care provider will give the pregnant person a pack of 4 pills called misoprostol. It is important to keep these pills in a dark, dry, and cool place. After 24-48 hours of taking one tablet of mifepristone, the client will place 2 tablets of misoprostol into each cheek (4 tablets total). They will leave the pills in their cheeks for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, any pills remaining in the mouth need to be swallowed. Some people experience nausea, chills, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea as side effects of misoprostol. If any of these last longer than 24 hours after taking misoprostol, call the Emergency On-Call number you were given at your appointment or proceed to the nearest emergency room.
Step 3: After taking the medication, cramps and bleeding will begin. The pregnancy is usually expelled between 30 minutes and 4 hours after taking the 4 pills of misoprostol. Expect heavy bleeding (usually heavier than a period), severe cramps, and passing clots. Some clots may be as big as a lemon. Cramps and bleeding will intensify as the pregnancy is being passed. After the pregnancy has passed, you can expect to feel a lot better. If you saturate 4 large pads in 2 hours, call the emergency number you were given at your appointment or proceed to the nearest emergency room. This might be too much bleeding.
Step 4: In the days following, the bleeding should slow down and the cramps should go away. If you are feeling feverish, sick, or if the bleeding continues or worsens, call the Emergency On-Call number you were given at your appointment or proceed to the nearest emergency room.
Due to the length of your appointment and the size of our waiting room, we ask that if someone brings you to your appointment, that they drop you off and return to pick you up once you are done. Additional people will not be allowed to accompany you through your appointment.
A medical abortion is usually completed within 48 hours. The pregnancy is usually passed between 30 minutes and 4 hours after taking the 2nd medication, misoprostol. Light bleeding may continue for up to 4 weeks.
You will need to take the 2nd set of pills (misoprostol) 24-48 hours after taking the 1st pill (mifepristone). The range gives you some choice for when you will have the heaviest cramps and bleeding. It is important to consider where and when you might take misoprostol for privacy and comfort, if those are of concern to you.
Yes. It is important to place the pills inside of your mouth, between your gums and cheek. Do not put these pills under your tongue or suck on them in the middle of your mouth.
People have a range of pain from moderate to severe period cramps and bleeding from moderate to a very heavy period. It is important to use large maxi pads when you take the medications. You can use a hot water bottle or heating pad, or take ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®) to manage discomfort. Do not take ASA (Aspirin®) for pain – it may increase bleeding.
If you saturate more than 2 maxi pads per hour for more than 2 hours in a row, please call the Emergency On-Call number that was provided to you at your appointment or proceed to the emergency room.
You can use a hot water bottle or heating pad, or take ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®) to manage discomfort. Do not take ASA (Aspirin®) for pain – it may increase bleeding.
Though complications of medical abortion are very rare, they can happen. They include:
A medical abortion is successful about 96-98 times out of 100. Out of 100 people, 2-4 will need to have a 2nd treatment with medication or a surgical procedure to ensure the pregnancy has ended.
No. After you take the first pill (mifepristone), the process of the abortion has begun. There is a risk of birth defects which is why it is very important that you feel sure about your decision. If you would like to discuss your pregnancy options, please call Women’s Health Clinic to speak with a Birth Control and Pregnancy (BCP) counsellor at 204-947-1517. You will also meet with a counsellor on the day of your appointment before taking the medication to ensure that you feel confident that this decision is right for you.
Ovulation can occur within 8 days of taking mifepristone, so you could get pregnant right away. When to start your birth control depends on the type of birth control you have chosen:
There will be time during your appointment to discuss birth control options with the counsellor.
No, the medication leaves your body within a couple of days and does not affect future pregnancies. You can become pregnant within days after having a medical abortion.
No, the medication leaves your body within a couple of days and does not affect future pregnancies.