Skip to content

Women's Health

Font Size

Medical Abortion Care - Topic Overview

A medical abortion is the use of medicines to end a pregnancy. Medical care for a medical abortion is different from medical care for a surgical abortion. This is because a medical abortion is like a miscarriage (in this case, caused by medicines) that takes place at home over 1 to 2 days and does not require your doctor to be present. After a couple of weeks of bleeding, you then see your doctor for a follow-up examination.

Care before a medical abortion

Before a medical abortion, your doctor may:

  • Evaluate your medical history, including any medicines you are taking.
  • Do a physical exam, including a pelvic examination, to evaluate your health, how long you have been pregnant, and location of the embryo or fetus.
  • Perform an ultrasound to confirm how far along and where the pregnancy is. Not all doctors choose to do this step.
  • Discuss your decision to have an abortion and your feelings about the decision.
  • Discuss your plans for future pregnancies and birth control use.
  • Explain how the medicines will work, possible side effects (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common), and when to call your doctor. It is important for your doctor to know whether you:
    • Have access to a telephone, to call if you have problems.
    • Have transportation to a health care facility if you need to be evaluated.
    • Will be able to return for a follow-up appointment.
    • Are prepared for the cramping pain and bleeding that will occur as the uterine contents are passed.
    • Understand that a surgical abortion will be needed if a medical abortion fails to complete the process.

In addition to the medicines used to cause an abortion, your doctor will give you medicines to minimize side effects, with specific instructions for their use. These medicines are used:

  • For cramping pain caused by uterine contractions.
  • To prevent nausea or vomiting.
  • To prevent infection.

All women who have Rh-negative blood type will be given Rh immunoglobulin to prevent Rh sensitization after an abortion.

If you need to call your doctor about your symptoms during a medical abortion, be prepared to provide information about:

  • How heavy the bleeding is, compared with your normal menstrual bleeding. The heaviest bleeding should stop 1 to 2 hours after passing the pregnancy tissue.
  • The number and types of pads used in 1 hour and the total number of soaked pads used.
  • The presence and size of blood clots.
  • Whether any pregnancy tissue has been passed.
  • The severity of your cramping or pain.
    1|2|3
    Next Article:

    Medical Abortion Care Topics

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
     
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    Couple with troubles
    Article
    Bone density illustration
    VIDEO
     
    Young woman being vaccinated
    Slideshow
    woman holding hand to ear
    Slideshow
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    Slideshow
    mother and daughter talking
    Evaluator
     
    intimate couple
    Article
    puppy eating
    Slideshow