A medical abortion is a regimen of medications taken by a woman to terminate a pregnancy during the first 10 weeks. Mifeprex (mifepristone or “abortion pill”) is used in combination with misoprostol over a span of 24-48 hours to end the pregnancy and to expel the embryo or fetus.
How does a medical abortion procedure work?
Mifeprex is taken by mouth at an abortion clinic. Mifeprex works by blocking progesterone, a hormone needed for a pregnancy to continue. Some vaginal bleeding may occur after taking Mifeprex but the abortion is not complete at this stage.
24-48 hours after taking Mifeprex, misoprostol is taken as directed by the clinic. Misoprostol is used to induce cervical softening, dilation and uterine contractions for the fetus to be expelled. You will experience strong cramps and heavy bleeding not too long after taking misoprostol. Symptoms are similar to a miscarriage.
A follow-up with a health provider is needed within 14 days after taking Mifeprex to ensure the abortion was completed. A pelvic exam, pregnancy test or ultrasound should be administered at this visit to ensure the abortion has been completed. If the abortion is not completed, a surgical abortion is necessary.
Who can’t take Mifeprex?
Mifeprex should not be taken by women who:
- are more than 10 weeks pregnant
- have an ectopic pregnancy
- have problems with adrenal glands
- is currently being treated with long-term corticosteroid therapy
- has had an allergic reaction to mifepristone, misoprostol or similar drugs
- have bleeding problems or is taking blood thinning drugs
- have an intrauterine device (IUD)
What are the side effects of Mifeprex?
Aside from cramping and heavy bleeding, women may experience nausea, weakness, fever, chills, vomiting, headache, diarrhea and dizziness within the first two days of taking both medications.
Other adverse events that have been reported in women that have taken Mifeprex include death resulting from an ectopic pregnancy, several cases of sepsis and a non-fatal heart attack.
Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following:
- fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher for more than four hours
- severe abdominal pain
- heavy bleeding that soaks through two thick full-sized sanitary pads per hour for two hours in a row
- stomach pain, weakness, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol