Medicine for Abortion

If you have found out that you are pregnant and desire to have an abortion, there are several options available to you. The doctor may recommend an actual abortion procedure performed at an abortion clinic or a doctor's office; the doctor may also offer you the option of taking a medicine for abortion that can eliminate the pregnancy without having to have a procedure. You need to be early in the pregnancy in order to choose the latter way of abortion, but it is generally a good option that most women will choose.

What Is the Medicine for Abortion?

There are actually two medications available for use in ending a pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about which medication is best for you and which one will be more effective. These two medications include:

  • Misoprostol. This is a medicine for abortion that was originally marketed for the treatment of stomach ulcers. It can be used by itself to halt a pregnancy but the effectiveness will be increased when given along with a medicine for abortion called mifepristone. Used alone, there can be side effects, especially when you attempt to use it after 9 weeks gestation.
  • Mifepristone. This is a medicine for abortion that is only available in parts of the world where abortion is legal. Available only in pill form, it is swallowed by individuals desiring to end a pregnancy.

As mentioned, mifepristone and misoprostol are better used together for better efficacy in ending a pregnancy. Just one pill for abortion may not work effectively and it may lead you to the need of having an abortion procedure.

How Are They Used?

The FDA has set up a protocol for those wishing to have an abortion that involves three visits to the doctor. The first visit involves taking three mifepristone tablets at the doctor's office. The second visit takes place two days later, in which you consume two pills of misoprostol. Two weeks later, you see the doctor to make certain that the pills have been effective.

There is another protocol some doctors commonly make use of that involves two separate doctor's visits. The first involves taking a single tablet of mifepristone. The misoprostol is taken at home a day or two after the first doctor's visit. The second doctor's visit involves checking to make sure that the medicine for abortion actually worked.

How Does Medicine for Abortion Work?

The two medicines for abortion work in slightly different ways. The mifepristone pill blocks progesterone, which is an important female hormone necessary to maintain the pregnancy. When progesterone is blocked, the cervix softens, the lining of the uterus sheds, and you may experience bleeding. When you add the second medicine, misoprostol, it causes uterine contractions that expel the embryo within about 6-8 hours. Then the pregnancy is ended.

You will have some leeway as to when to take the misoprostol, which can be taken within 24 and 72 hours following the taking of the mifepristone. This helps you have some control over when you will experience the actual cramping and bleeding so that it doesn't happen while you are at work or when anyone else might notice.

So, What About the Effectiveness of Medicine for Abortion?

These two medicines for abortion are very effective when taken together in the prescribed way. Estimates put the rate of effectiveness at about 97 percent. Make sure that you make a follow-up appointment after taking the pills so you don't end up being one of the three percent of people in whom the medications do not work. If they do not work, you may need an abortion procedure.

Is It Safe to Use Medicine for Abortion?

The vast majority of women will be able to use a medically-induced abortion safely. There are some risks in using this form of abortion that you should know about, however. These include the following:

  • Having an incomplete abortion in which a portion of the pregnancy has not been expelled.
  • Having an allergy to one of the pills used to create the abortion.
  • Infection inside the uterus.
  • A failure of the pills to end the pregnancy.
  • The retention of blood clots within the uterus.
  • The failure to detect an ectopic pregnancy
  • Extremely heavy vaginal bleeding

You should know that most of these complications are easy to treat. Your doctor will treat these rare complications with certain treatments or the addition of other medications. It is extremely rare to die from a medically-induced abortion but it can still happen. In fact, it is safer to have a medically-induced abortion than it is to deliver a full term pregnancy.

You should call your doctor anytime you are going through a medically-induced abortion and experience any of the following symptoms:

  • You have many vaginal blood clots that are larger than a lemon or persist for more than a couple of hours.
  • You have extremely heavy vaginal bleeding such that you soak through more than two heavy pads per hours for a couple of hours in a row.
  • You experience intense abdominal pain that is not relieved by using a hot water bottle on the abdomen, taking an over-the-counter medication for abortion, or just resting.
  • You experience a twenty four hour history of nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
  • You have fever of greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit the day following the taking of the last pills.
  • You have a malodorous discharge coming from your vagina.
  • You are experiencing pregnancy-related symptoms.

After the abortion, you should begin to feel better each and every day. If you continue to have diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, weakness or vomiting more than a day after taking the misoprostol, this could mean you are suffering from a serious infection. Should this happen, seek medical attention right away.

Who Cannot Use Medicine for Abortion?

You may find that medicine for abortion is the right option for you if you meet the following criteria:

  • Are able to give informed consent for the procedure.
  • Are less than 8 weeks gestation.
  • Live at least 2 hours away or less from an emergency room or hospital.
  • Can follow up for the visit you need to make after taking the pills.
  • Are willing to have an abortion procedure if the pills do not work.

It might not be the right medicine for abortion if you have any of the following health issues:

  • Severe anemia.
  • Failure of the adrenal glands.
  • Are taking an anticoagulant or have problems with blood clotting.
  • Have been taking corticosteroid medications for a long period of time.
  • Are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Have an inherited form of porphyria.
  • Have a tubal or ovarian mass.
  • Are allergic to either of the medication or any other prostaglandin-like medication.
  • Suffer from severe diarrheal symptoms.
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