Medical abortions use drugs, instead of surgical instruments to end a pregnancy. Before having a medical abortion, you should understand what it is, what it could mean to your health and how it works. Call for an appointment and one of our staff will be happy to discuss it with you, verify pregnancy and advise you on your options.
Early Medical Abortions – Up to 9 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP)
RU-486, Mifepristone: (Abortion Pill): Within 4 to 7 weeks after LMP
This is the most common form of medical abortion. It was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in women up to 7 weeks after LMP, but is commonly used “off-label” (in a manner not specified in the FDA’s approved packaging label) up to 9 weeks LMP and beyond.
What is it?
RU-486 is a combination of two drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — that cause early abortion. It is NOT the same as the “morning after pill.”
Note: RU-486 will not work in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition in which the embryo lodges outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. If not diagnosed early, the tube may burst, causing internal bleeding and in some cases, the death of the woman.
How does it work?
It blocks the effect of the hormone progesterone, which is necessary for the continuation of pregnancy. The embryo’s connection with the uterus is lost causing death. The procedure usually requires three office visits. On the first visit, the woman is given pills to cause the death of the embryo. The first pill, mifepristone, is taken orally and blocks the hormone progesterone needed to maintain the pregnancy. Two days later, the second pill, misoprostol, is given, causing the uterus to contract and expel the placenta and embryo. Cramping may be severe and bleeding usually last one to two weeks. The last visit is a follow-up ultrasound to determine if the procedure has been completed.
- Abdominal pain
- Severe cramping
- Heaving bleeding
What are the risks?
- Excessive bleeding
- Undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy
- Failed abortion
- In rare cases, infection (sepsis) leading to death
Things to consider:
- An RU-486 abortion requires 3 visits to a health care provider
- Bleeding can be heavy and lasts an average of 9-16 days
- One woman in 100 need a surgical scraping to stop the bleeding
- Pregnancies sometimes fail to abort, requiring a surgical abortion to be performed
- For pregnancies 8 weeks LMP and beyond, identifiable body parts may be seen.
- Most medical abortions using mifepristone are completed within 2 weeks, but some can take up to 3 or even 4 weeks