Unplanned pregnancies invite many questions about your options, and for many, abortion may seem like a reasonable choice. What’s most important, however, is to get the facts on abortion procedures and understand how they may impact your health.

One such procedure, medical abortion, is performed during the first ten weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. We’ll outline the basics of the procedure below, as well as the side effects and risks you need to know before agreeing to have one. 

What Medications Are Used During a Medical Abortion?

A medical abortion, also called the abortion pill, uses two medications, mifepristone, and misoprostol, to end an early pregnancy. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, the hormone that sustains a pregnancy, and misoprostol induces uterine contractions and expels the pregnancy tissue through the vagina. 

These medications can cause side effects like vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping, but others can occur, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

The best way to manage mild side effects like cramping and bleeding is to get plenty of rest, take over-the-counter pain medications, and stay hydrated. However, if these side effects are severe, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Understanding Abortion Risks and Complications

Firstly, not everyone is eligible for a medical abortion, including those who meet one or more of the criteria below:

  • Are too far along in your pregnancy
  • Have an intrauterine device (IUD) currently in place
  • Have a suspected pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy)
  • Have certain medical conditions (i.e., bleeding disorder, heart or blood vessel diseases)
  • Take a blood thinner or certain steroid medicines
  • Can’t make follow-up visits to your provider
  • Don’t have access to emergency care
  • Have an allergy to the medication used

If your medical provider has cleared you to have a medical abortion, be aware that you still may encounter risks that can lead to significant health complications and require further treatment, such as:

  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
  • An ongoing pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

An incomplete abortion is especially risky as this can lead to issues such as sepsis or hemorrhaging. This condition occurs when some of the pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus following an abortion, requiring further treatment. If you feel something is wrong, seek immediate medical care.

Protecting Your Health

What are some of the best things you can do before making a pregnancy decision? Have a physical exam by your medical provider, and get an obstetrical ultrasound. Ultrasounds reveal key details about your pregnancy such as viability, gestational age, and pregnancy location. 

Knowing this information will help you determine whether you’re eligible for an abortion procedure or if you have medical conditions that need care. 

No-Cost, Confidential Help at La Luz Women’s Center

Without the proper support, navigating an unplanned pregnancy can seem impossible. However, you don’t have to do this alone. We offer no-cost, no-judgment, confidential services to support you in making an informed and empowered choice. Our services include pregnancy options education, limited ultrasounds, and more. 
Contact us today to make an appointment. We’re here for you!