Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

Abortion Pill – How Does it Work and What to Expect?

There are usually no long-term complications or side effects of the abortion pill. Read here to know more.

Abortion is a major decision. One needs to be 100 percent sure about it.

Abortion is safe and legal in India. But, only if performed by trained and certified doctors at licensed clinics or hospitals. Based on the duration of the pregnancy or far you have been through your pregnancy, the doctor may recommend either medical or surgical abortion.

In a news article published by Times of India, a total of 15.6 million (1.56 crore) abortions took place in India in 2015, out of which 12.7 million (81 percent) were done using abortion pills and 2.2 million (14 percent) were done through surgical methods, and 0.8 (5 percent) abortions were through other unsafe means. This article is intended to help the readers get valuable insights about abortion pills and how exactly it works to abort the fetus.

What is the abortion pill?
The abortion pill is the medicine that ends the progress of pregnancy by destroying the fetus and expel the remnants through bleeding. Although we refer to the process as the abortion pill, it involves using two separate medicines. The first pill is mifepristone (also known as RU-486) that aids in the termination of the pregnancy. The second pill is misoprostol, which helps the uterus expel the pregnancy.

How does the abortion pill work?
In India, the abortion pill can be used only till the 9th week of your pregnancy. If the pregnancy has been more than that duration, you will have to undergo in-clinic or surgical abortion to terminate the pregnancy.

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The process of pregnancy termination using an abortion pill needs to be carried out under the supervision of an expert gynecologist only.

First, the pregnant woman shall be asked to take a pill called mifepristone. Mifepristone blocks the development of the progesterone hormone, which stops the pregnancy from growing further. The second pill, misoprostol, needs to be taken after some time. The second pill should be taken within 48 hours of taking the first pill. Misoprostol causes uterus cramping and bleeding and empties the uterus. The feeling is very similar to heavy and crampy periods. If no bleeding takes place within 24 hours of taking the second pill, you should call your doctor without delay.

The abortion pill can have side effects, so it is crucial to take the pill only at the doctor’s health center.

How effective is the abortion pill?


The abortion pill is very effective. But the effectiveness of the pill depends on how far you are in your pregnancy while you take the pill.

  • For women who are 8 weeks pregnant or less, the pill works about 94-98 out of 100 times.
  • For women who are 8-9 weeks pregnant, the pill works about 94-96 out of 100 times.
  • For women who are 9-10 weeks pregnant, the pill works about 91-93 out of 100 times. If you’re given an extra dose of medicine, it works about 99 out of 100 times.

If the abortion pill does not successfully end the pregnancy, you may require to take more pills or go for surgical termination of pregnancy.

When can the abortion pill be taken?
In India, the use of mifepristone and misoprostol are approved up to nine weeks of pregnancy. However, in some countries, these drugs are approved till the 10th-week of pregnancy.


What to expect after taking an abortion pill?
Many women relate the experience similar to that of early abortion.

After taking the second pill, you will likely experience severe cramping and bleeding for the next few hours. Depending on how far you have come along in your pregnancy, your bleeding may have smaller or larger chunks of bloody tissues.

The abortion pill may cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Fever and chills

Your body is likely to become tired and weak after taking the pills so you need to take rest for the next few days until you feel normal. You may use heeding pads or take hot showers to relieve the body pain. Do not take any antibiotics or painkillers without consulting the doctor. It may have adverse effects on your body.

What are the complications of the abortion pill?
The abortion pill is safe. But there can be exceptions to it.

If you feel sick and have nausea or vomiting even after 24 hours of taking the second pill, it could be a sign of infection. You need to call the doctor immediately in that case. If the bleeding continues for a longer time, your body may become frail. In rare cases, it may cause death too.


There are usually no long-term complications or side effects of the abortion pill. Severe complications are likely to occur only when the woman has other underlying health issues or has a history of mental illness.

Like any other medication, the abortion pill is not right for all. You need to discuss your health & Abortion related doubts with the gynaecologist and decide if the pill is the right option for you or not.

Common complications of taking abortion pill may include:

  • bleeding for too long
  • extra heavy bleeding
  • blood clots in your uterus
  • allergic reactions to the medicine

In rare cases, severe complications may occur. Some of them are:

  • no bleeding within 24 hours of taking the medicine
  • Pain and cramps that do not go away after taking medicine
  • blood clots bigger than the size of lemon for more than 2 hours
  • fever for more than24 hours of taking the second pill

Abortion is a major decision. You need to be mentally and emotionally ready for it. The doctor gets to decide the medical aspects of your abortion, and you can choose who you want to get along with while you go for the abortion.


















First published on: 12-08-2021 at 12:19:30 pm
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