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What Are the Side Effects of the Abortion Pill?

Are you considering an abortion for your unplanned pregnancy? There are two main types of abortion – surgical and medication – and both come with their own side effects and risks.

The abortion pill is also called medication abortion. It’s an early pregnancy termination prescription. As with all medications, it does come with side effects and risks, and it’s important to be aware of before you take it.

Before we examine the risks associated with the abortion pill, it’s helpful to understand how it works.

How Does the Abortion Pill Work?

The abortion “pill” is typically a series of two drugs designed to end a pregnancy in the first 70 days.

The first drug, mifepristone, is often prescribed and taken at the doctor’s office or abortion clinic. It works by blocking your body’s production of progesterone from reaching the uterus.

The second drug, misoprostol, is also prescribed by a doctor but can typically be taken at home anywhere from 24-72 hours after the first drug.

What Are the Side Effects of the Abortion Pill?

Every medication has side effects, including the abortion pill. Here are some of the most common side effects you may experience after a medication abortion.

Physical Side Effects of the Abortion Pill

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

The medications used to make the abortion pill may also cause vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping.

You may be given pain medication to take during and after the abortion. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic in case of infection.

In addition to the side effects listed above, you may experience these symptoms that require medical attention:

  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Heavy bleeding that soaks two or more pads an hour for two hours
  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Incomplete abortion

In your follow-up visit with your doctor after the abortion, they will confirm the abortion was successful. He or she may ask additional questions about your health or the experience.

Emotional Side Effects of the Abortion Pill

Every woman responds differently after taking the abortion pill. Some only expect to feel relief afterward. And they may be surprised when they experience other emotions. It’s common to feel a range of emotions after your abortion, including:

  • Relief
  • Loss
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Regret
  • Anger
  • Depression

These feelings are all normal, and speaking with a pregnancy consultant may help you process these and other emotions. Just remember you aren’t alone in these feelings, even if they are confusing and seem contradictory.

What Should I Do Before I Take the Abortion Pill?

Before making any medical decision, it’s important to carefully consider the side effects and risks.

Getting an ultrasound before your abortion also provides additional information that is helpful as you make your decision.

An ultrasound lets you know how far along you are in your pregnancy (which will determine if you are eligible for the abortion pill). It also tells you where the pregnancy is located and if the pregnancy is viable.

It’s also a good idea to know about other options you have besides abortion. Our staff members are happy to sit down and provide this information so you can make a fully-informed, empowered decision.

Please schedule an appointment for a free and confidential ultrasound appointment today. We’ll help answer any questions you have during your appointment.




Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.