MEDICATION ABORTION (THE ABORTION PILL)
A medical abortion is one that is brought about by taking medications
that will end a pregnancy. Red River Women's Clinic offers
medication abortion in the first 63 days (less than 9 weeks) of
pregnancy. Two medications are used as part of the medication
abortion, mifepristone and misoprostol.
Mifepristone (the abortion pill or RU-486) is a medication
that was developed and tested specifically as an abortion-inducing
agent. It was first licensed in France and China in 1988.
Since then it has been used safely by millions of women worldwide.
It was approved for use in the U.S. in September, 2000.
is taken in the form of a pill. It works by blocking
the hormone progesterone, which is necessary to sustain pregnancy.
Without this hormone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, the cervix
(opening of the uterus) softens, and bleeding begins.
Misoprostol Within 24-48 hours after taking the mifepristone, a second drug, misoprostol, is taken. Misoprostol
tablets (which are placed in the cheek pouch between the cheek and gums)
cause the uterus to contract and empty. This ends the pregnancy.
It can take anywhere from about a day to 3-4 weeks from the time a woman
takes the first medication until the medical abortion is completed.
The length of time depends in part on the medications taken and when the
misoprostol is used. The majority of women who take mifepristone
will abort within four hours of using misoprostol. About 95% of
women will have a complete abortion within a week.
Some women have vaginal bleeding after the first drug. This
bleeding may be light, or it may be like a heavy period. After
taking the misoprostol, cramping and bleeding usually begin within a few
hours, although it may take longer. The cramping and bleeding may
be more than with a normal menstrual period.
The most common side
effects of medical abortion are caused by misoprostol. In addition to
cramps and bleeding, early side effects may include: headache, nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, fever, chills, or fatigue. If a woman experiences flu-like
symptoms or abdominal pain more than 24 hours after using misoprostol, she is
advised to call the clinic.
Most women have cramps for
several hours, and many pass blood clots as they are aborting. Blood clots can
be quite large, like a lemon or the palm of your hand. This is to be
expected. Some women may
see the grayish gestational sac. However, the embryo will probably not be
seen among the blood clots. Cramps and bleeding usually begin to ease
after the embryonic tissue has been passed, but bleeding may last for one to two
weeks after medical abortion.
Complications: About 95-98% of women will have a successful
medical abortion. Complications are rare. However, a small
percentage of women (approximately 0.5-2%) will need a suction aspiration
(similar to a surgical abortion) because of heavy or prolonged bleeding.
Rarely, in approximately 0.1-0.2% of cases, a blood transfusion might be
required to treat very heavy bleeding.
In about 1% of cases or
fewer, the medications do not work and the embryo continues to grow. In these
cases, a suction procedure (surgical abortion) must be done to empty the uterus
and complete the abortion. Deciding to continue the pregnancy to term is
not an option after taking the first medication because the medications can
cause birth defects in the pregnancy.
Medical abortion requires
a follow-up visit to the clinic. This return visit is very important to be
sure that the abortion has been completed. The follow up visit consists of
a pregnancy test and a vaginal ultrasound. The follow-up visit usually
takes about one hour, and is FREE.