What Does The Abortion Pill Do?

Medical abortion, also called the abortion pill, is a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy.  It is the common name for using two medicines to end a pregnancy – mifepristone, and .

What does the abortion pill do and how does it work?

As pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to grow normally, taking a pill called mifepristone will block your body’s progesterone stopping the pregnancy from growing. This is the first pill you take and is given to you at your health center.

After mifepristone you need to take a second medicine, called misoprostol, either right away or up to 48 hours later. This stage of the abortion is similar to having a hefty, crampy period, and the process resembles an early miscarriage. This medicine causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus. This should occur within the first 24 hours after taking misoprostol. If you don’t experience any bleeding within this period, you need to call your nurse or doctor.

For most women, the cramping and bleeding can last for several hours, and most finish passing the pregnancy tissue in 4 to 5 hours, although it may take longer. While the cramping and bleeding slow down after the pregnancy tissue comes out, some women experience cramping on and off for 1 or 2 more days.

You can take medicine like ibuprofen around 30 minutes before you take misoprostol to ease the cramps. You can also take anti-nausea medicine if your doctor prescribes it. Keep in mind that you should not take aspirin because it can make you bleed more.

It is normal to experience some bleeding and spotting for several weeks after your medication abortion, and you are free to use pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup. However, your doctor will probably recommend using pads for the first few days so you can monitor your bleeding.

The next step is to follow up with your nurse or doctor. They might suggest taking a pregnancy test at home, followed by a phone call to your doctor, or going back to a health center for an ultrasound or blood test.

Your doctor or nurse at the health center will provide you with both pills as well as detailed directions about where, when, and how to take the second medicine, which depends on the state laws and your health center’s policies. You may also get some antibiotics to prevent any possible infections.

How effective is the abortion pill?

While the most common question is what does the abortion pill do, many women are also wondering how effective it is. The abortion pill is very effective. However, the effectiveness depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy when you take the medicine:

  • For women who are 8 weeks or less pregnant, the effectiveness is around 94% to 98%
  • For women who are 8 to 9 weeks pregnant, the effectiveness is around 94% to 96%
  • For women who are 9 to 10 weeks pregnant, the effectiveness is around 91% to 93%. But if you are given an extra dose of medicine, it is effective around 99%
  • For women who are 10 to 11 weeks pregnant, the effectiveness is around 87%. If you are given an extra dose of medicine, it is effective around 98%

On those rare occasions when the abortion pill fails to produce results, you can ask your doctor to give you another dose or have an in-clinic surgical abortion.

You can have a medical abortion up to 77 days (11 weeks) after the first day of your last period. If it has been 78 or more days since the first day of your last period you will need to have a surgical abortion.

Why do women choose the abortion pill?

Which kind of abortion you choose to have depends entirely on your personal preference and situation. Medication abortion is more convenient for some women because you don’t need to have a procedure in a doctor’s office. You can have your medication abortion at home or any other comfortable place you choose. You can also decide whether you wish to have someone accompany you or go alone. Also, since medication abortion is similar to a miscarriage, many women feel like it is more natural and less invasive.


If you have any doubts, your doctor, nurse, or health center staff can help you decide which kind of abortion is best for you. Abortion clinic Fort Lauderdale is here to help you.