What Are the Risks of the Abortion Pill?
Before making any medical decision, it’s important to explore and then weigh any potential risks and side effects. The same is true of the abortion pill. While it may seem like a common enough abortion method, some of the risks can be quite serious.
In this blog we outline how the abortion pill works and the risks you should be aware of to make a fully-informed decision.
What Is the Abortion Pill?
The abortion pill is an early pregnancy termination method. Also called a medical abortion, medication abortion, or chemical abortion, it utilizes two drugs to end a pregnancy in the first 10 weeks.
The first drug, mifepristone, prevents your uterus from absorbing progesterone. Progesterone is needed for the pregnancy to grow, so when it is cut off, the pregnancy ends. Mifepristone is typically taken orally at the abortion clinic where it is prescribed.
Misoprostol is the second drug in the abortion pill regimen. It is taken at least 24-48 hours later and causes bleeding and contractions as your body expels the pregnancy.
What Are the Risks of the Abortion Pill?
There are a number of risks associated with the abortion pill. Some are exacerbated if you’re on certain medications or have certain health conditions. It’s important to learn as much as you can about the risks before choosing the abortion pill.
The following risks are associated with mifepristone, according to Mayo Clinic:
Excessive vaginal bleeding: Contact your doctor if the bleeding lasts longer than expected (soaking through two thick full-size sanitary pads per hour for more than two hours).
Symptoms of serious infection: A fever equal to or higher than 100.4 degrees, severe stomach pain, pelvic tenderness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abnormally fast heartbeat.
Adrenal gland problems: If you experience a darkening of the skin, lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting, mental depression, or unusual tiredness or weakness, check in with your doctor.
Changes in heart rhythms: Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeats can be a sign of a deeper problem and you should call your doctor about any of these changes.
Septic shock is a medical emergency. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), if you recently had an abortion and experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical help right away:
Very high or very low body temperature
Cool, pale arms and legs
Feelings of confusion, restlessness, or fatigue
Low blood pressure, especially when standing
Inability to urinate
Rapid, pounding heart rate
Difficult, rapid breathing with shortness of breath
An incomplete abortion can happen if you take the abortion pill too far into your pregnancy. If you’re experiencing heavy bleeding for more than two consecutive hours, contact your healthcare provider right away.
According to NIH, in about 1 out of 100 women, bleeding can be so heavy that it requires a surgical procedure.
Before You Take the Abortion Pill
Before taking the abortion pill, it’s important to take care of a few vital health checks.
First, you’ll want to confirm your pregnancy with a lab-quality pregnancy test. Sometimes at-home tests can be inaccurate if taken too early or if the instructions were not followed properly.
Next, an ultrasound is important for three main reasons:
It will verify you’re actually pregnant. Sometimes a pregnancy test comes back positive but an early miscarriage occurs.
It will confirm the location of the pregnancy. Viable pregnancies implant in the uterus, and a pregnancy is ectopic (and non-viable) if it implants outside of the uterus. In addition to being non-viable, this pregnancy can also pose serious health risks to you and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.
It will reveal the gestational age of the pregnancy. Only women in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy are eligible for the abortion pill, and taking it too late in the pregnancy can cause complications.
We offer free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds at our pregnancy center so you can learn as much as possible about your pregnancy before making your decision. You owe it to yourself to make a fully-informed choice.