The Abortion Pill

We inform, you decide.

A medical abortion is a procedure in which a regimen of drugs is used to end a pregnancy. Sometimes, known as “the abortion pill,” this regimen is prescribed for abortions before 10 weeks gestation. This procedure typically costs between $250-$650.

The FDA approved regimen[1] involves two drugs administered on a prescribed timeline.

  • First, 200 mg of a drug called mifepristone is administered orally. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, a pregnancy-sustaining hormone. Without progesterone, the uterus becomes inhospitable and the baby stops developing.
  • The next drug, misoprostol, is administered orally or buccally (in the cheek) 48 hours later. Misoprostol is sometimes used to induce labor at the end of pregnancy.[2] The drug causes the uterus to contract and the cervix to soften and dilate, expelling blood and the remains of the baby and placenta. It can take a few hours or up to two weeks for this to occur.
  • About 7-14 days later, a healthcare provider performs pelvic exam to ensure the abortion is complete and that there are no complications.

Immediate Side Effects

Common side effects include vaginal bleeding that can continue for up to 4 weeks,[3] cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, diarrhea, and headache.[4]


A medical abortion does carry some risk for complication, including prolonged bleeding and infection. There is also a risk that the abortion fails or is incomplete. In some cases, it may require a trip to the emergency department.

Call your doctor immediately if you bleed through more than 2 or 3 pads every hour, have foul-smelling discharge, experience severe abdominal pain that does not subside with pain medication, have a fever or flu like symptoms, faint, or have any other symptoms that persist.

Long Term Side Effects

Medical abortions can have some long term side effects, including a greater chance for future preterm births,[5] infertility,[6] breast cancer,[7] and sexual dysfunction.[8] Some patients also experience long term emotional side effects and are at a greater risk for mental health challenges.[9]

Fetal Development

Medical abortions are prescribed between weeks 4 and 10 of pregnancy. During this time:[10]

  • The baby is beginning to develop its central nervous system (including nerves, brain and spinal cord)
  • The heart begins to beat
  • Eyes, arms, legs, lungs, and stomach begin to form
  • Hands and feet are forming

Caution Against Off-Label Medical Abortions

Some providers may prescribe medical abortion drugs outside the parameters set by the FDA, which pose increased risks to your health.

Examples of off-label use include:

  • Administering medical abortion drugs after 10 weeks gestation
  • Administering mifepristone and misoprostol at the same time
  • Administering misoprostol alone, without first administering mifepristone

Do not buy Mifeprex or other abortion pills over the Internet. All medical abortions require the oversight of a licensed health care provider who can appropriately assess your health history and the gestational age of the baby. They are also required to share a copy of the Mifeprex Medication Guide, detailing the FDA-regulated drug regimen and the potential risks. Medical abortion pills purchased online are not FDA-approved and are not subject to FDA-regulated safety protections.[11]

If you buy abortion pills online or take abortion pills without the supervision of a health care professional, you are bypassing safeguards that have been put in place to protect your health.

Your life and your body are important. If you have any questions about medical abortions, schedule an appointment with our team today.

Cindy Piper, BSN, RN

Medically Reviewed By:



[1]  FDA Approved Abortion Pill Process: View PDF

[2] Helmig, RB, Hvidman, LE. An audit of oral administration of Angusta® (misoprostol) 25 µg for induction of labor in 976 consecutive women with a singleton pregnancy in a university hospital in Denmark. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2020; 99: 1396– 1402. View PDF

[3] How Much and For How Long Should You Bleed After Taking Misoprostol: View PDF

[4] Mayo Clinic, Medical Abortion Side Effects: View PDF

[5] Abortion may cause future preterm births: Saccone, G., et al., Prior uterine evacuation of pregnancy as independent risk factor for preterm birth: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Obstet Gynedol; 214(5): 572-591: View PDF

[6] Abortion may cause infertility: Moridi, A., (2019) Etiology and Risk Factors Associated with Infertility, IJWHRS;7(3): 346-353: View PDF

[7] Abortion may be linked to breast cancer: Huang, Y., et al.,(2014) A meta-analysis of the association between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females.  Cancer Causes Control; 25(2): 227-6: View PDF

[8] Abortion may cause sexual dysfunction: Wing Yee Fok, Shing-Shun Nelson Siu, Tze Kin Lau, Sexual dysfunction after a first trimester induced abortion in a Chinese population, European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Volume 126, Issue 2, 2006, Pages 255-258: View PDF

[9] Abortion is linked to increased risk for mental health diagnosis: Coleman, P.K.,(2011). Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research. Br J Psychiat;199(3): 180-186: View PDF

[10] Cleveland Clinic, Fetal Development Stages of Growth: View PDF

[11] Mifeprex Mifepristone Information: View PDF

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