Abortion Pill Facts

Friday, June 6th, 2014 by Dr Joan F.

The abortion pill has become an increasingly more popular option for early abortion ever since the FDA approved its use in 2000. There are a number of reasons that someone would choose to take the abortion pill, or RU486, over an in-office procedure. Some women feel that it is more natural, like inducing a miscarriage, and this can make the experience more comfortable emotionally for them. Other women simply do not do well with doctor’s offices or visits. Still others want to be in the comfort and privacy of their own homes during the abortion process.

The abortion pill, also known as Mifeprex or the French Abortion Pill is a non-surgical option for early abortion. The process consists of three steps. First, on the day of your inital appointment, you will take one pill in the office. This pill causes the pregnancy hormone to no longer be released in your system and prepares the uterus to expel the pregnancy. Secondly, at home 24-72 hours later, you take a second set of pills called misoprostol or Cytotec. These pills cause the uterus to contract and the cervix to open, expelling the pregnancy and the contents of the uterus. These pills will cause moderate to significant bleeding and cramping which is normally manages well with over-the-counter medication. The third and final step is a follow-up appointment. The doctor will perform a second ultrasound at this time to ensure that the procedure was successful and that the uterus is empty.

The abortion pill is available up to 9 weeks into the pregnancy. Ideally, most doctors will want you to be at least 5 ½ weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period before taking the pill.  The reason for this is so that she can confirm that the pregnancy is inside the uterus. Depending on what abortion provider you choose, however, this option may be available earlier than that.

While the abortion pill can be effective up to 9 weeks, most women will prefer to take it earlier. The earlier the pregnancy is, the less tissue there is to pass, so theoretically, the less cramping you will have.

Another option for very early pregnancy termination is the Manual Vacuum Aspiration Procedure. This is usually the preferred abortion method for those under 5 ½ weeks. Because the Manual Vacuum Aspiration Procedure is completed in one day (compared to the abortion pill, which can take days to weeks to complete), your pregnancy hormone levels will begin to drop quicker. In the first few hours following the Manual Vacuum Aspiration Procedure, pregnancy hormones can drop by 50%. Additional blood tests may still be required.

Most women who are sure of their decision to terminate what to do so as quickly as possible. It is important to realize that your safety is the most important priority, and sometimes it is best to wait, but if you are interested in having a procedure completed earlier, speak with your abortion provider.