Medication Abortion

A prescription is required for all medication abortion orders. For information about accessing a medication abortion, contact our team here.

A medication abortion typically starts with a combination of two drugs, both of which require an Rx:

  • Taken first, mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which causes the lining of the uterus to break down.

  • Then, misoprostol is taken, which causes the uterus to contract and empty.

Background on Medication Abortion

Medication abortion is an FDA-approved method of taking mifepristone, together with misoprostol, to end a pregnancy within 10 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period. This abortion method is non-invasive – using pills – and can be an alternative to surgical abortion.

Safe and Effective: 97% successful overall when taken in combination with misoprostol.
Non-Invasive: The pills are taken orally instead of an aspiration procedure.

What to Expect from Medication Abortion

Treatment is initiated by taking one (1) mifepristone pill first, as directed. You may experience mild nausea. Next, take the misoprostol pills (between 4 to 12, depending on your regimen) as directed between cheeks, under the tongue, or insert vaginally as directed by your provider approximately 0 to 48 hours after taking mifepristone.

Some providers will advise you to take ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) and/or ondansetron (anti-nausea) before taking Misoprostol to prevent the onset of pain and nausea. Expect cramping and/or bleeding about 24 hours after starting misoprostol; however, onset maybe sooner. You can also expect loose stool, chills, and/or fever. Continue taking ibuprofen and ondansetron as needed to help with cramping, pain, and nausea as instructed every 6 to 8 hours. Be sure to contact your provider if you don't bleed after taking misoprostol. You must contact your provider for additional instructions if you bleed and soak through 2 maxi pads per hour for two consecutive hours. This is a sign that you might be bleeding too much.

If you plan to start birth control, you can initiate pills, patch, or ring one or two days after taking misoprostol. Implants can be initiated on the same day you start abortion medication and IUDs as soon as the bleeding has slowed down.

Pharmacist Tip

We are here to assist and guide you through the process of taking your medication.

  • Before you start your medication abortion, make sure you do NOT have:

    • any IUDs in place

    • an ectopic pregnancy

    • bleeding problem or are on blood thinners (confirm with your prescriber that treatment would be okay)

If you are unsure if any of these apply to you, please speak with your provider prior to taking this medication.

One of the critical items to remember when initiating any treatment is to ensure that you have fully absorbed the medication. Typically, this requires the medication to be in your system for at least 30 minutes. You will likely require a new dose if you vomit or expel the medication in the first 30 minutes. If this occurs, please inform your provider immediately so they can get replacement doses to you as soon as possible.

When you plan to begin treatment, choose a comfortable place where you can rest. Make sure to drink plenty of water to hydrate and eat lightly to help mitigate nausea. While rare, complications can occur with medication abortions, so be sure to have a safety plan in place. Identify the nearest hospital or emergency room, and ensure you have transportation methods available to get there. Save your provider's phone number or email address if you need to contact them.

Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy

  • Missed Period

  • Tender/Swollen breasts

  • Frequent urination

  • Mood Swings

  • Bloating and Cramping

  • Nausea and Smell/Taste sensitivity

  • Lethargy

  • Spotting - implantation bleeding

Medical Experts

  • Primary Care Provider - A primary care provider is a medical doctor trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat a broad array of illnesses and injuries in the general population. PCPs provide comprehensive care — which means they can address both chronic and long-term conditions like diabetes mellitus and acute problems like bronchitis, allergic reactions, colds, and flu.

  • Nurse Midwife - A midwife is a healthcare provider trained to provide obstetric and gynecological services, including primary care, prenatal and obstetric care, and routine gynecological care (like annual exams and contraception). They're an expert in uncomplicated OB/GYN care.

  • OB/GYN - An obstetrician/gynecologist, or OB/GYN is a healthcare professional that specializes in female reproductive health and specializes in both obstetrics and gynecology:

    • Obstetrics involves working with pregnant women, including delivering babies

    • Gynecology involves the female reproductive system, treating a wide range of conditions, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and chronic pain

Additional Medications

  • Ondansetron - used to help mitigate nausea side effects from mifepristone/misoprostol

  • Ibuprofen - pain reliever used to relieve cramping and pain

  • Acetaminophen - pain reliever used to relieve cramping and pain

  • Heating Pads - used to alleviate pain/cramping


Why can't I get this medication through my local doctor and pharmacy?

  • Mifepristone has historically been a highly regulated medication and required in-clinic administration. This is not medically necessary, and while the in-person requirement was recently removed, the FDA still requires both providers and pharmacies to be certified. This medication may still be available through a local doctor or pharmacy but is not yet widely available through retail pharmacies.

I want to obtain more information about medication abortion.

  • Please get in touch with our customer advocate team here.