What is the Abortion Pill?


Think you might be pregnant and considering abortion? You may not know where to turn or what to look into next. First, know that you are not alone as you navigate your pregnancy options

Take the time to make sure you know all the facts and information before making your next steps. Be sure you’re making a confident and informed choice. 

What is the Abortion Pill? 

It’s more commonly known as the abortion pill, but medical or medication abortion is actually a process of two separate doses of medication. 

Mifepristone, the first dose, is often taken at a clinic or under the care of a physician. This drug blocks progesterone, a hormone essential to pregnancy. Then, the uterine walls begin to thin, causing the embryo to detach, ultimately causing fetal demise. 

Misoprostol, the second dose, is taken hours or sometimes up to a day later. Misoprostol was originally developed to treat ulcers, since it interacts with the muscular lining of the stomach and affects the secretion of important stomach fluids. This dose causes the uterus to contract, expelling the pregnancy and tissue through the vagina. Misoprostol also causes cramping and bleeding that empties your uterus, which may cause tiredness and cramping up to 2 days afterwards. You may also have an upset stomach, diarrhea, dizziness, or a mild fever.

The FDA only approves the use of abortion pill medications for the termination of early pregnancies up to 10 weeks gestation. Taking these pills past this point in pregnancy could be unsafe and open the patient up to further risks, such as incomplete abortion or other complications. 

What Are the Risks of the Abortion Pill

Some side effects of the abortion pill may be mild, while others can be extreme. It’s important to monitor any side effects you feel to note how long they last. If you experience abdominal pain or “feeling sick” for more than 24 hours after taking the pills, you’ll need to contact your doctor immediately for follow-up care. 

Misoprostol, the second dose of the abortion pill, can also cause vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping. A fever of 100.4 or more can be a symptom of a serious infection or other complication, so contact your doctor if this is a concern for you.

The Mayo Clinic lists the potential physical risks of medication abortion as: incomplete abortion, (which may need to be followed by surgical abortion), an ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work, heavy and prolonged bleeding, infection, fever, or digestive system discomfort.

If left untreated, incomplete abortion can present a further risk of infection or septic shock. 

Is Ordering the Abortion Pill Online Safe? 

You may have heard more recently about ordering the abortion pill online. While this may seem to be more accessible and easy, it is wise to note that just like ordering anything else online, obtaining medication through the internet could be risky

The first important element to consider is that a prescribing physician or online provider can only know part of your unique medical needs without seeing you for an in-person exam. It is possible that your dating of how far along in pregnancy you may be based on your last period could be off – as the abortion pill is only approved for the termination of early pregnancies up to 10 weeks, this could compromise your health. 

It is also worth considering that ordering medication from an online source could provide more opportunities for variation in dosage, ingredients, or effectiveness standards. Have you ever ordered clothing online and had it show up on your doorstep looking completely different from what you thought you ordered? Think about how much more dangerous this could be when ordering medications that have the potential to affect your long-term health. 

Without in-person medical care, you could also be unaware of other medical complications. For example, if ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy located outside of the uterus) is a concern for you, this would not be resolved by abortion medication, and you would need to seek immediate emergency medical care. Any delay in treatment could be detrimental to your health. 

What Do I Need to Know Before Seeking the Abortion Pill? 

As you navigate your pregnancy decision, one of the best first steps you can take is to find out more about your unique medical needs first. Seeking in-person care with a medical professional through an ultrasound exam could answer a lot of key questions, such as: 

  • How far along you are (and what pregnancy options may be available to you) 
  • If the pregnancy is located in the uterus (or if ectopic pregnancy is a concern) 
  • If the pregnancy is viable (or if miscarriage care is necessary) 

It may also be reassuring to you to discuss your pregnancy options with a caring professional in person. At Bella Medical Clinic, our medical team can help you answer your questions at no cost to you. Schedule your free appointment today to put your health and safety first. 

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