Medical Abortion is commonly called “abortion by pill” or medical abortion or medication abortion.
A medical abortion is a non-invasive procedure that is completed in the comfort and privacy of your own home and that is brought about by taking medications that will end an early pregnancy. The name of the abortion pill is Mifeprex. It has also been called Mifepristone and RU-486. An additional medication used with Mifeprex is called misoprostol or Cytotec. Delaware County Women’s Center (DCWC) offers the medical abortion if you are between 5 and 10 weeks of pregnancy based on your last menstrual period, and you meet all eligibility requirements.
Mifeprex has been available as an early abortion method in the United States since September 2000, although, in several other countries around the world it has been a safe abortion method for more than 25 years. The treatment regimen used at Delaware County Women’s Center is approved by the FDA.
You may not be eligible for a medical abortion if you have: an ectopic pregnancy, ovarian mass, an IUD in place, adrenal failure, anemia, bleeding disorders, asthma, liver or kidney problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, or if you are currently using blood thinners or taking certain steroids.
Abortion by Pill is a good choice for a woman who:
- Is between 5-10 weeks from her last menstrual period
- Desires to be more involved in the abortion process
- Prefers to have a private abortion in the comfort of her own home
- Prefers to avoid surgery, anesthesia and the operating room experience
- Is comfortable telling a support person she is having a medication abortion
- Is able and willing to return to DCWC in 2 weeks for a follow-up examination
How does the medical abortion work?
Medical Abortions work by taking two medications Mifprex and Misoprostol (also called Cytotec). There are three steps to the medical abortion (in addition to complying with the Pennsylvania waiting period requirements), and the time it takes to complete the abortion can vary from person to person. The medical abortion requires at least 2 visits to Delaware County Women’s Center.
Step 1: First Visit
On the day of your first visit or before you will go through a pre-procedural assessment, which includes having an ultrasound, vital signs and blood testing, medical consultation, education session, and payment. The medical abortion will begin when the doctor administers Mifeprex (1 pill/200mg) a medication that is taken by mouth. Mifeprex stops the production of progesterone. Progesterone is a naturally produced hormone that prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg. With Progesterone the lining of the uterus breaks down, the cervix (opening of the uterus) softens, and bleeding begins.
Step 2: At Home
24 – 48 hours after taking Mifeprex you will take a dose of misoprostol (4 pills/800mg). Misoprostol is a medication that causes the uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy. You will place the misoprostol pills in between your cheek and your gums for a half hour and then swallow them.
You can expect the first symptoms of abortion within 4 – 6 hours of taking the misopostol. Possible symptoms include weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, strong cramping, and bleeding. Some women say that the procedure is very much like a heavy period while other women describe the bleeding and cramping as much more intense. Please keep in mind that everyone responds to the medical abortion differently.
The heaviest of the bleeding and cramping should pass within 24 hours, though for some women it may take longer. Afterwards your bleeding should then begin to resemble a normal period. You may continue to bleed and have some mild cramping for up to 30 days.
Step 3: Second Visit
You must return to Delaware County Women’s Center for a follow-up exam that will include an ultrasound. This is the most important part of the procedure, as this is the only way to determine if the abortion is complete. If the medical abortion fails to remove all the pregnancy tissue, the physician may give you either more misoprostol, perform a manual vacuum aspiration at DCWC, or arrange a referral to the Philadelphia Women’s Center, our sister clinic, for surgery. 2-3 out of 100 women will need a surgical procedure to end the pregnancy.