What Can I Expect Before, During and After I Take the Abortion Pill?

In our first two articles about the Abortion Pill – What is the Abortion Pill and Is the Abortion Pill Safe and How Effective Is It, we discussed what a medicated abortion (abortion pill) is, how it works, and safety and effectiveness of this method of abortion.

In this post, the last one in the series, we’ll go over how you can prepare for a medicated abortion, and what you can expect to feel during and after.

Abortion Pill in woman's hand

How to Prepare for Your Medicated Abortion

Before you begin a medicated abortion, you will need to consult with a nurse, a doctor, or another member of your healthcare team. A medicated abortion is not right for every woman or in every situation. You and your healthcare professional will go over your options. You’ll be given a physical exam, lab tests, and possibly an ultrasound to determine how many weeks into your pregnancy you are.

Once it’s been determined that the abortion pill is right for you, your doctor or nurse will let you know of any additional preparations you may need to make to prepare yourself for the abortion.

You will receive written instructions on how to take the two separate medicated abortion pills. You’ll also be given a number you can call any time, day or night, for help with questions or concerns. It’s important that you know you have access to knowledgeable and caring professionals from the beginning to the end of the process.

Since the actual abortion process occurs outside the medical clinic or office, you can make yourself more comfortable by planning ahead. Choose a place and time where you will have some privacy. Have someone you know and trust, either with you or nearby.

Have plenty of maxi pads at your disposal. Also, be sure to have food and beverages, your computer, E-Reader, books, or anything else that will help you pass the time. Have pain medication on hand (but not aspirin, as that will increase the amount of bleeding).

What to Expect During a Medicated Abortion

What happens when you take the abortion pill? We’ll walk you through the basic process here.

There are a couple steps to a medicated abortion. In fact, the abortion pill is actually two different medications taken at two different times.

Step 1: Mifepristone

While you are at your doctor’s office or medical clinic, you’ll be given the first pill. This one is called mifepristone. In a small number of cases, nausea and bleeding might begin after taking this first pill, but this is unusual.

You will be given antibiotics to prevent any possible infection.

Step 2: Misoprostol

You will also be given the second pill, to take home. You will take this medication, misoprostol, 6 to 48 hours after the first one. Your nurse or doctor will explain more precisely how and when to take it.

The purpose of this second pill is to begin the cramping and bleeding necessary to empty the uterus. For most women, the bleeding and cramping starts somewhere between 1 to 4 hours after taking the second pill containing misoprostol.

During this part of the process, it’s usual to see large blood clots (up to about the size of a golf ball) or clumps of tissue as the abortion continues. Don’t let this frighten you. It’s completely normal. The process and physical pain are much like an extremely heavy period, and what is happening with your body is similar to what occurs during an early miscarriage.

Step 3: Recovery

You are now probably wondering how long do you bleed after taking the abortion pill? This bleeding and cramping can last for several hours. Once the tissue is expelled, the bleeding and cramping will diminish. You may continue to have cramping on and off for a couple more days.

You can take pain medication (other than aspirin) about 30 minutes before you take the misoprostol pill and nausea medication if this has been prescribed by your nurse or doctor.

It’s not abnormal to continue to have a small amount of bleeding or spotting for up to several weeks after your medicated abortion.

Step 4: Doctor Visit Follow-Up

Finally, you’ll need to have a follow up visit with your doctor to make sure all is well and that your abortion incomplete.

In the unlikely event that the medicated abortion has not worked completely, your doctor or nurse will discuss additional options with you.

How it Feels to Have a Medicated Abortion

Most women have described having a medical abortion as feeling like a very heavy period. Doctors and nurses explain it as having a similar level of discomfort and pain as an early miscarriage.

Pains and sensations may include:

  • Heavy bleeding with large clots of blood
  • Cramping and aches in the abdominal area
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mild fever or chills on the first day (if this continues, call your doctor right away)

You can ease the pain a bit by taking a non-aspirin pain medication, placing a hot water bottle on your abdomen, taking a shower, sitting on the toilet, or having someone rub your back.

What To Expect After an Abortion

So what happens after the abortion pill process is over? What are the abortion pill side effects? Read on to learn about common abortion pill after effects.

What Happens After the Abortion Pill Process is Over?

Recovery after a medicated abortion is usually rather quick with most women feeling crampy and tired for a day or so with some bleeding or spotting. Most normal activities (except exercise and hard physical work) can be resumed the following day.

Fever, chills, and nausea go away quickly and you should keep feeling better as each day goes by.

When Should I Call My Doctor or Clinic?

Medicated abortions are both effective and safe. However, if you feel something is wrong, you should call your healthcare provider. This includes situations where you continue to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever after 24 hours following taking the second set of pills (misoprostol).

How Will a Medicated Abortion Affect My Periods?

You will likely bleed and spot on and off for a few weeks following your abortion. The abortion will have started a new menstrual cycle and your period should return to normal in 4 to 8 weeks.

How Soon Can I Have Sex Following My Abortion?

There is no set amount of time to start having sex after the abortion pill. You can start as soon as you feel ready.

When Can I Start Using Birth Control?

You can start birth control right away. Talk to your healthcare provider about which type is best for you.

If you are pregnant and considering an abortion, please contact us, or your doctor right away. We will be able to answer your questions or concerns. You can also find more information here on our site or just give us a call.