Discovering you’re unexpectedly pregnant is scary, so it’s only natural to weigh the pros and cons of each option. We’re here to give you an honest, no-nonsense guide to everything you need to know about the abortion pill, including what makes the abortion pill painful and the level of pain you might experience if you choose to take it.

Who is eligible to take the abortion pill?

The abortion pill is an option for women who are up to 9 weeks pregnant according to their last menstrual period. The most accurate way to find out if you are before 9 weeks is with an ultrasound. After that, the pregnancy is too far advanced for these medications. You can learn your pregnancy’s gestational age with an ultrasound.

How does the abortion pill work?

The abortion pill is actually two pills taken at different times. The first dose is called mifepristone, and this is provided while still at the doctor’s office. Mifepristone blocks pregnancy hormones from getting to the embryo. The second pill, misoprostol, is taken later on while at home. Misoprostol begins the process of expelling the pregnancy.

What makes the abortion pill painful?

The second pill taken during the abortion pill process begins labor contractions in order to expel the tissue and uterine lining. This process can take up to five hours and, because contractions similar to those during labor are occurring, it is usually quite painful. In addition to the contracting process, there are several unique factors that can affect how painful it is, like:

  • Your health, including past or current health conditions (whether physical or mental)
  • How far along your pregnancy is
  • Your ability to tolerate pain
  • Your stress level and emotional health

What does the pain feel like?

Some women compare abortion pill pain to very severe menstrual cramps, and it is usually quite painful. During the contracting process, there will be a lot of bleeding that is heavier than the typical period, as well as several large blood clots that are expelled.

Is there anything else I might experience?

In addition to the cramping and bleeding, you may also experience any of the following after taking the second dose of the abortion pill:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

In some cases, though rare, there are much more serious complications following the abortion pill, like:

  • Infection
  • Prolonged or severe bleeding
  • Incomplete abortion requiring a surgical procedure

What happens afterward?

While the bleeding will slow down once the embryo has passed, it likely will not stop for up to four weeks. It’s common to also experience fatigue for several days, as well as breast tenderness. Another doctor’s visit will be required to check for complications.

How do I know if the abortion pill is right for me?

The abortion pill is still a medical procedure, even though the second half of it occurs while at home. So, it’s important to consider whether it’s the right choice for you. The best way to do this is to get solid, fact-based information about each of your options for the confidence you need to make an empowering choice for you.

For more in-depth information on the abortion pill, abortion in general, and your other options, schedule a confidential appointment for ultrasound and options counseling at Hopeline PRC at no cost.



Mayo Clinic