It can be very confusing to sort through all the facets of an unplanned pregnancy and what to do next. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 51 percent of all pregnancies are unintended , so many women are wrestling with pregnancy decisions. No matter what you end up deciding, it’s a difficult choice to make.
You may be thinking about the abortion pill as one of your options. Here we will common answer questions about it as well as the accompanying side effects.
What is the Abortion Pill?
If you have weighed all your pregnancy options and have made an informed decision to end your pregnancy through abortion, you may be given a choice to have a medical abortion. The abortion pill is used to induce a medical abortion if the first day of your last period was less than 70 days earlier. If more than ten weeks have passed since the first day of your last period, you will probably need a surgical abortion, a surgical procedure performed in a clinic or hospital.
How Does the Abortion Pill Work?
Although it’s called the abortion pill , it actually requires two different medications be taken to end a confirmed pregnancy. Before giving you the abortion pill, it’s essential that a licensed healthcare provider does the following:
- Provides you information about all your pregnancy options so you can feel confident about your decision
- Discusses your health history with you and reviews medications you’re taking
- Gives you a pregnancy test to confirm you’re pregnant
- Performs a blood test for Rh factor to prevent potential future pregnancy complications
- Performs an ultrasound to see how far along you are and verify that you have a viable pregnancy
- Provides sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing to prevent complications
- Fully informs you about the abortion pill, including how it works, what to expect, side effects, risks, follow-up, and when to contact the doctor.
Once you have decided on a medical abortion, do not move forward without a healthcare provider examining you and completing the steps above. Be sure you have a viable pregnancy before taking the abortion pill.
You will usually take the first medication (mifepristone) at a clinic or doctor’s office. Mifepristone prevents the embryo from staying implanted in the uterus by blocking the hormone progesterone. The second medication (misoprostol) is typically taken at home 6-48 hours later and causes heavy cramping, which expels the gestational sac or embryo. After taking misoprostol, the embryo is usually expelled about 4-6 hours later, but it can take as long as one to two days.
What Happens if I Take the Abortion Pill but Change My Mind?
If you take the first medication and regret it, help is available to you. Know that you aren’t alone. Enough women have changed their minds after taking the abortion pill that professional healthcare providers developed and operate a program called Abortion Pill Rescue (APR) for women who take the abortion pill but decide to continue their pregnancies after all — regardless if they’re going to parent or choose adoption.
The abortion pill reversal process consists of taking the progesterone hormone that was blocked by mifepristone, but time is of the essence. Ideally the reversal protocol would be started within 24 hours.
If you changed your mind and have only taken the first set of pills, do not take the second medication and call APR at (877) 558-0333 so they can help you.
Abortion Pill Side Effects
At first glance, it might seem pretty simple to have an abortion by taking medication. But there are physical and emotional side effects that are crucial for you to consider. Let’s start with discussing physical abortion pill side effects .
Physical abortion pill side effects: Physicians typically provide nausea and pain medication to help with discomfort; however, women experience the following during a medical abortion:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe cramping
- Passing clots as large as a lemon
- Low-grade fever and chills
- Dizziness and weakness
In addition to side effects, there are also abortion pill risks  that require immediate medical attention to consider, including:
- Severe bleeding, which is heavy bleeding for more than 12 hours in a row, soaking more than two sanitary pads in an hour for two hours in a row, or passing golf-ball sized clots for more than two hours
- A fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
- Vomiting for more than 4-6 hours
- Sudden swelling of your belly
- Heart racing
- Severe abdominal or back pain not relieved by pain relievers or rest
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider if you have other symptoms you’re concerned about or sense something is wrong. Other physical complications can occur, such as a failed abortion requiring a surgical abortion or retained tissue in the uterus requiring treatment.
Sometimes, there are other side effects that can affect a woman after the physical discomfort has subsided. Let’s look at those next.
Emotional and psychological abortion pill side effects: Many women feel an initial sense of relief after an abortion. But sometimes, difficult emotional side effects  set in later. These can include regret, guilt, grief, humiliation, and second-guessing their choices.
Women who have the most emotional and psychological difficulty after taking the abortion pill are:
- Women who felt pressured or forced into the abortion decision
- Women who are blamed and/or shamed for their abortion decision
If you are struggling emotionally after an abortion, you are not alone. We offer emotional support and healing support groups to help you recover after an abortion.
Get the Information and Support You Deserve
At Pregnancy Care Clinic, we are here to walk with you each step of the way in a caring and judgment-free environment. Make an appointment today to receive the caring support you deserve so you’ll be equipped with unbiased information to make confident decisions about your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Care Clinic offers confidential pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and other resources at no cost to you. Our licensed medical professionals and compassionate client advocates provide these services and education, so you are empowered to make the best decision for yourself.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, September 12). Unintended Pregnancy. Retrieved January 21, 2021 from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/unintendedpregnancy/index.htm
 Gotter, Ana. (2016, August 30). Abortion pill: What is a medical abortion? Retrieved July 3, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/abortion-pill
 Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Medical abortion. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/medical-abortion/about/pac-20394687
 The University of Michigan Health. (2019, May 29). Medical Abortion Care. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tw5273#:~:text=Call%20your%20doctor%20immediately%20if,from%20a%20normal%20menstrual%20period.
 N., Pam. (2016, January 9). The emotional side effects of abortion. Retrieved July 2, 2019 from https://psychologydictionary.org/article/the-emotional-side-effects-of-abortion/