Medical abortion is the use
of medicines to end a pregnancy. Medical abortion can be done up to about 9 weeks of pregnancy.
A typical treatment schedule for a medical abortion usually
requires at least two visits to your doctor over several weeks. For the first
visit, one medicine is taken during the visit and a second medicine is given to
be taken at home. Vaginal bleeding may last about 14 days.
Usually about 2 weeks after the first medical visit, a follow-up examination is
needed to see if you are recovering well and to make sure the procedure
Medicines currently available in the United States for
inducing abortion are:
Misoprostol. This hormone softens and opens (dilates)
cervix and triggers uterine contractions. Misoprostol
used alone may end a pregnancy but is much more effective when used with other
medicines, such as mifepristone or methotrexate, in first-trimester
Mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone, also known
as Mifeprex or RU-486, blocks the effects of the hormone progesterone. This
placenta's growth, softens the cervix, and makes the
uterus ready for labor. Misoprostol is then used to start contractions to clear
the uterus of all tissue.
Methotrexate and misoprostol. Methotrexate interferes
with the placenta's growth. It is not as effective as mifepristone and takes
longer to abort a pregnancy. Misoprostol is then used to start contractions to
clear the uterus of all tissue.
See the What to Think About section of this topic for a
comparison of medical abortion and surgical abortion.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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