What is Medication Abortion?

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Medication Abortion — What is it?

Medication abortion (also known as medical abortion, or the abortion pill) is an abortion via pills or tablets instead of surgery. In most countries that allow it, medication abortion involves a combination of two drugs — one mifepristone pill and 4 misoprostol pills — taken 24-48 hours apart.


Medication abortion only works early in pregnancy; the first trimester. In Kenya, women can obtain medication abortions until [#] weeks.

Medication Abortion Effectiveness

Medication abortion is safe and effective. At nine weeks of pregnancy or less, medication abortion is 99.6% effective. Of all medication abortions, only 0.4% result in major health complications.


Medication abortion is extremely common. It is estimated that over a third of all abortions worldwide are medication abortions.

Medication Abortion Side Effects

Most women experience cramping during medication abortion, similar to what they might experience during a normal menstrual cycle. Many women describe a medication abortion as a “really bad period.” Women may also experience fever, nausea, and diarrhea.


Side effects caused by medication abortion can be managed safely with over-the-counter treatments such as Ibuprofen and Paracetamol. 

Bleeding during medication abortion is natural. Heavy bleeding is normal during the first several hours after taking misoprostol, but minor bleeding can last for around 2 weeks. Your cycle should return to normal within 1-2 months. 


It’s important to rest during and after a medication abortion. Strenuous activity and exercise should be avoided for at least 2 days afterward. Many women feel comfortable returning to school or work very soon afterward.


Abortion does not affect a woman’s fertility. Getting a medication abortion will not prevent a woman from becoming pregnant afterward. Other than extremely rare complications, it won’t affect her overall health at all.

How long does it take?

In Kenya, medication abortion is available via a combo pill pack of mifepristone and misoprostol. The mifepristone prepares the uterus for abortion, and the misoprostol induces the abortion.


One pill (200 mg) of mifepristone is taken first, and four pills (800 mg) of misoprostol are placed under the tongue 24-48 hours later. 


Usually, bleeding does not occur until after the misoprostol is taken. Heavy bleeding is common at first, but should lighten up after 1-2 days. Some spotting or light bleeding for up to two weeks is normal. 


Women’s menstrual cycles should return to normal after 4-8 weeks. Sex can be continued safely as soon as she feels ready.


Medication abortion does not affect fertility. Women that would like to become pregnant can begin trying right away. For those that don’t, it’s important to take up a contraceptive method.

Medication Abortion Cost

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Where to Get a Medication Abortion

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Can I get pregnant after Medication Abortion? How will it affect my cycle?

It is extremely rare that medication abortion will affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant later on. In fact, it’s possible to become pregnant very soon after an abortion — so if a woman’s goal is to avoid pregnancy, she should start a contraceptive method right away.


Light bleeding or spotting is common for 1-2 weeks after a medication abortion, but most women’s periods return to normal 4-8 weeks after a medication abortion. 


It’s safe to have sex after a medication abortion as soon as the woman feels able. It’s generally recommended that she start trying to have a baby again after 1-2 months.

Is Medical Abortion better than Surgical Abortion?

The choice between medication abortion and surgical abortion depends on two things: timing and preference.


Medication abortion is only effective until 10 weeks into pregnancy. Surgical abortion can take place much later. However, medication abortion can be performed from the privacy and comfort of home, whereas surgical abortion cannot. Many women prefer medication abortion for that reason.


Because surgical abortion is performed by a health care worker, it requires fewer clinic visits than a medication abortion. For a medication abortion, women should return to the clinic 7-14 days after the procedure, to ensure pregnancy has been terminated and no additional treatment is necessary.


The likelihood of injury and infection after medication abortion is less than that of surgical abortion. They’re so rare that most healthcare workers don’t even recommend preventative antibiotics for medication abortions. 


Complications and severe side effects are incredibly unlikely. However, because medication abortion takes place at home and not in the clinic, it’s important that women have someone with them when they take the pills, and to have an emergency plan, just in case.


Neither surgical nor medication abortion affect a woman’s ability to have a baby in the future.