If you want to end a pregnancy in the first 12 weeks, there are two main types of abortions: surgical or medical. Surgical abortions are also known as Dilatation and Curettage (D&C), while medical abortions are often called the abortion pill or the morning-after pill. The abortion pill has become more popular since it was FDA approved in 2000. In fact, studies show that women who have had both types of abortion would rather choose the abortion pill method. There are many advantages to the abortion pill procedure, such as a 94 to 99 percent chance of avoiding surgery, the ability to have a significant other or companion present during the procedure and greater privacy. Other advantages include the patient being in a controlled environment during the procedure and having more control over the timing of the abortion.
During the first office visit for women who choose the abortion pill procedure, several tests are conducted in order to verify the pregnancy and check for any possible health complications. These tests include a pregnancy test, urine dip stick test, blood test and abdominal and/or pelvic sonogram. These tests help to determine the number of weeks pregnant the patient is, as well as check for any possible risks or health concerns.
Pregnancy counseling is meant to inform patients of the risks and benefits associated with terminating a pregnancy. It also allows counselors to assess whether patients are being coerced into making this decision. If patients express that they are being forced to terminate their pregnancy, our facilities will not perform the procedure.
Patients are given the RU 486 pill (Mifeprex or Mifepristone) before leaving the office, which must be taken within a certain time frame. This medication terminates the pregnancy by blocking the hormone progesterone, causing the pregnancy to separate from the wall of the uterus. The patient is given a second medication, Cytotec (Misoprostol), which is a medication that causes the uterus to contract.
After taking the Misoprostol tablets, uterine contractions usually start within a 4- to 6-hour timeframe and vaginal bleeding should follow shortly after. In most cases, the pregnancy tissue will pass within 4 to 8 hours of taking the Misoprostol tablets, though it can sometimes take up to 30 days for everything to be expelled. Bleeding normally lasts for no longer than 14 days, though in some cases it has been known to last anywhere from 30 to 60 days.
1-2 weeks after a patient’s initial office visit, they will return for a repeat sonogram to confirm that the pregnancy tissue has passed from the uterus. If patients are not able to make this second visit, they are not candidates for the abortion pill procedure.
The Abortion Pill procedure is safe and highly effective in ending abortions from 3 to 12 weeks gestation. However, like with any medical procedure, there are a few risks and complications that could occur, such as heavy vaginal bleeding, retained pregnancy tissue or uterine infection – but those complications only occur less than 1% of the time.