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Medical abortion

Medical abortion is an alternative to a surgical abortion that involves taking medications to end a pregnancy. Medical abortion can be done in your own home and is available if you are less than nine weeks pregnant.

What is involved?

Medical abortion usually involves two appointments. In the first appointment you will be prescribed the medications and be told when and how to take the medication. The medications that are prescribed are mifepristone and misoprostol.

  • Step 1: Mifepristone is one tablet that you take as normal with a glass of water. Some bleeding or spotting can happen after taking the first tablet. The effects of mifepristone are usually mild and do not last long. Most women are able to carry out their usual daily tasks after taking this first medication.
  • Step 2: Misoprostol is four tablets dissolved in the mouth, it is taken 36-48 hours after the first medication (mifepristone). Misoprostol causes contractions in the muscles of the uterus. This causes the cervix to open slightly and the uterus to be emptied, with the pregnancy expelled. You are likely to begin bleeding and having cramps within 1-4 hours after taking the tablets so we recommend that you plan to take misoprostol on a day when you can stay at home for most of the day.

Your health care provider will discuss what to expect and give you a 24-hour aftercare phone number. You will need to have a follow up blood test 7 days after you take the first medication and you will have a follow up appointment 14-21 days after taking the medications to check that the abortion is complete.

What are the side effects of medical abortion?

Most people have bleeding and cramping that is mild to severe. The cramping usually lasts about 24 hours but the bleeding may continue for two weeks or more. Taking pain relief tablets is recommended. Having a support person at home with you is also important.

Other side effects may include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • vomiting

How can I book a medical abortion appointment?

If you have more questions about the medical abortion process, or to find out where you can access a medical abortion, call the Pregnancy Choices Helpline on 1800 008 463.