In today’s healthcare landscape, understanding medical abortion is crucial. This blog aims to provide an overview of abortion pills, their effects, and important considerations surrounding their use.

Overview of Abortion Pills

Abortion pills, also known as medication abortion, primarily involve two FDA-approved medications: Mifepristone and Misoprostol. These drugs are approved for medical abortion use up to 70 days (10 weeks) of pregnancy, offering a non-surgical option for early pregnancy termination.

The use of medication for abortion has a relatively recent history. Mifepristone was first developed in France in the 1980s. The FDA approved its use in combination with misoprostol for early abortion in 2000. Over the years, research has refined protocols, enhancing efficacy and reducing side effects.

How Do Abortion Pills Work?

Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, functions as an anti-progestogen by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is crucial for sustaining pregnancy. By inhibiting progesterone’s action, mifepristone causes the uterine lining to break down, the cervix to soften, and the pregnancy to detach from the uterine wall.

Misoprostol, administered 24-48 hours after mifepristone, is a prostaglandin analog that induces uterine contractions. This leads to cervical dilation, uterine contractions, and the expulsion of pregnancy tissue.

This process mimics an early miscarriage, allowing the body to naturally expel the pregnancy tissue.

The Procedure of Medical Abortion

During this consultation, pregnancy is confirmed, often through a pregnancy test. If you’re in the Lubbock area and need to confirm your pregnancy before considering options, you can get one. These medications, such as mifepristone and misoprostol, are commonly used to terminate early pregnancies up to 10 weeks gestation.

If you’re looking for a free pregnancy test Lubbock, you might consider checking with local community health centers, Planned Parenthood locations, or clinics that specialize in women’s health services. These places often offer free or low-cost pregnancy tests. It’s a good idea to call ahead to confirm availability and any specific requirements they may have. 

The medical abortion process typically involves several steps, spanning over a week or more:

  • During the initial consultation, a healthcare provider confirms the pregnancy and assesses eligibility for medication abortion. The patient receives counseling regarding the procedure, potential alternatives, and associated risks. A physical examination, including possibly an ultrasound, is conducted. 
  • On the first day of treatment, the patient takes mifepristone under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Some women may experience light bleeding following this step. 
  • Between 24 to 48 hours later, the patient self-administers misoprostol at home, which induces stronger cramps and heavier bleeding to facilitate the abortion process. 
  • Typically, within 2 to 24 hours of taking misoprostol, most women experience significant bleeding and cramping as the pregnancy tissue is expelled. Bleeding may persist for several days to weeks afterward. 
  • Follow-up care scheduled 1 to 2 weeks later includes an appointment to confirm the completion of the abortion. This may involve a physical examination, blood tests, or ultrasound to ensure the procedure was successful and assess the patient’s post-abortion health.

It’s crucial to note that experiences can vary. Some women may expel the pregnancy tissue quickly, while others may take longer. Following the healthcare provider’s instructions carefully is essential for safety and efficacy.

Efficacy and Safety of Abortion Pills

Medical abortions have demonstrated high levels of efficacy and safety, supported by extensive research and clinical experience.

The medication abortion method using mifepristone and misoprostol demonstrates high efficacy when used as directed, with a success rate of 99.6%. Approximately 95-98% of medication abortions are completed successfully without the need for surgical intervention. 

Several factors influence efficacy, including the gestational age of the pregnancy (more effective earlier in pregnancy), adherence to the prescribed medication regimen, and individual physiological responses to the medications involved. These variables play crucial roles in determining the overall effectiveness of the procedure in safely and effectively terminating pregnancies.

Medical abortions, including those using mifepristone and misoprostol, are generally considered very safe. The risk of major complications is low, estimated at 0.4%. The mortality rate associated with these procedures is extremely rare, at less than 0.001% (0.00064%). These underscore the overall safety profile of medication abortions when performed under proper medical supervision and protocols.

This safety profile compares favorably to other common medical procedures and is significantly lower than the risks associated with carrying a pregnancy to term.

Comparison to Surgical Abortion

Studies consistently show that medication abortions have a lower complication rate compared to surgical abortions, particularly for pregnancies up to 9 weeks gestation.

AspectMedication AbortionSurgical Abortion
InvasivenessNon-invasiveMinimally invasive
Anesthesia requiredNoSometimes
Risk of infectionVery lowLow
Control over timingMore flexibleScheduled procedure
Duration of bleedingUsually longerUsually shorter

Research has not shown any negative long-term effects of medication abortion on future fertility or pregnancy outcomes. Women who have had a medication abortion can typically become pregnant again as soon as they resume ovulation, often within 4-6 weeks after the procedure.


While generally safe, medication abortion is not recommended for everyone. Contraindications include:

  • Confirmed or suspected ectopic pregnancy
  • Chronic adrenal failure
  • Long-term corticosteroid therapy
  • Known allergy to mifepristone or misoprostol
  • Hemorrhagic disorders or concurrent anticoagulant therapy
  • Inherited porphyrias

Patients must disclose their full medical history to their healthcare provider to ensure the safety of the procedure.

Possible Side Effects and Management

While generally safe, abortion pills can cause side effects. Common ones include cramping, bleeding, nausea, weakness, fever or chills, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and dizziness. These side effects are typically mild to moderate and temporary, resolving as the abortion process completes.

Serious complications, such as infection or excessive bleeding, are rare but possible. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention if severe side effects occur. Always follow your healthcare provider’s guidance on managing side effects and when to seek help.

Emotional and Psychological Impacts

The emotional response to a medical abortion can vary widely among individuals. Some common experiences include feelings of relief, grief, guilt, and mixed emotions. It’s important for healthcare providers to offer supportive counseling and resources to patients undergoing this process, recognizing the diverse emotional reactions that may accompany a medical abortion.

It’s essential to recognize that these feelings are normal and that support is available. Many healthcare providers offer counseling services or can refer patients to appropriate resources.

Impact of Policy Changes on Access to Abortion Pills

Recent policy shifts have had significant implications for access to abortion pills:

  • Expanded access: Suspension of in-person dispensing requirements for mifepristone has increased availability in some areas.
  • Restricted access: Some states have implemented laws limiting access to abortion pills.

These changes highlight the importance of staying informed about current policies in your area.


Understanding abortion pills and their effects is crucial for making informed healthcare decisions. While medication abortions are generally safe and effective, they come with potential physical and emotional impacts that should be carefully considered.

As laws and policies continue to evolve, staying informed about the legal status and availability of abortion pills in your area is essential. Remember, the decision to have an abortion is deeply personal, and it’s important to consult with healthcare professionals and utilize available support resources.

If you’re considering a medical abortion or have questions about abortion pills, consult a licensed healthcare provider for personalized advice and accurate information.


1. What should I do if I experience severe side effects after taking abortion pills?

If you experience severe pain, heavy bleeding (soaking through two pads per hour for two consecutive hours), fever over 100.4°F lasting more than 24 hours, or any other concerning symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your healthcare provider or go to the nearest emergency room.

2. Can abortion pills affect fertility or future pregnancies?

Current research indicates that abortion pills do not negatively impact future fertility or pregnancies. Most women who have had a medical abortion can become pregnant again once they resume ovulation, typically within 4-6 weeks after the procedure. However, it’s important to discuss any concerns about future fertility with your healthcare provider.

3. How long does the bleeding last after taking abortion pills?

Bleeding typically starts within 1-4 hours after taking misoprostol and can last for 9-16 days on average. However, experiences can vary. Some women may experience spotting for up to 30 days. If you have concerns about prolonged bleeding, consult your healthcare provider.