How Does a Medical Abortion Work?

A medical abortion consists of the administering of two drugs: RU-486 (Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and Misoprostol. The FDA approved protocol for an RU-486 medical abortion includes three office visits, as follows:

  1. Mifepristone is given orally during your first office visit. Mifepristone blocks progesterone from the uterine lining, causing the fetus to die. This alone may cause contractions to expel the fetus. If you are Rh negative, you will likely receive an Rhlg injection at this time as well.
  2. You will return home where you may experience nausea or vomiting and cramping. If you vomit before an hour has passed, you may need to take the mifepristone again.
  3. Misoprostol tablets are given orally or inserted vaginally during the second office visit which occurs 36 to 48 hours later. Antibiotics and pain medication are sometimes prescribed.
  4. You will return home where the misoprostol will start contractions and expel the fetus. This may occur within a few hours or in some cases up to two weeks after taking the misoprostol. Women have often described this part of the process as extremely painful.
  5. A physical exam is given two weeks later to ensure the abortion was complete and that there are no immediate complications.

Some abortion providers neglect the second office visit, making women take Misoprostal by themselves at home. Some also do not offer the physical exam after two weeks.

The failure rate of Medication Abortions is about 5-7 percent. If this happens, you will then need to have a surgical abortion.

Your First Look Women’s Center provides free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds to confirm viability, and information on all your options—abortion, adoption, and parenting. We do not provide or refer for abortion services. All services are free and confidential.