Medical abortion is the use of medicine to end a pregnancy. The medicine helps remove the fetus and placenta from the mother’s womb (uterus).
There are different types of medical abortions.
- Therapeutic medical abortion is done because the woman has a health condition.
- Elective abortion is done because a woman chooses (elects) to end the pregnancy.
An abortion is not the same as a
Therapeutic medical abortion; Elective medical abortion; Induced abortion; Nonsurgical abortion
A medical, or nonsurgical, abortion can be done within 7 weeks from the first day of the woman’s last period. A combination of prescription hormone medicines are used to help the body remove the fetus and placenta tissue. The doctor may give you the medicines after performing a physical exam and asking questions about your medical history.
Medicines used include mifepristone, methotrexate, misoprostol, prostaglandins, or a combination of these medicines.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Medical abortion might be considered when:
- The developing baby has a birth defect or genetic problem
- The pregnancy is harmful to the woman’s health (therapeutic abortion)
- The pregnancy resulted after a traumatic event such as rape or incest
- The woman may not wish to be pregnant (elective abortion)
Risks of medical (nonsurgical) abortion include:
- Continued bleeding
- Pregnancy tissue not passing completely from body, making surgery necessary
Before the Procedure
The decision to end a pregnancy is very personal. To help weigh your choices, discuss your feelings with a counselor, health care provider, or a family member or friend.
Test done before this procedure:
- Pelvic examination is done to confirm the pregnancy and estimate how many weeks pregnant you are.
- HCG blood test may be done to confirm the pregnancy.
- Vaginal or abdominal ultrasound may be done to determine the exact age of the fetus and its location in the womb.
After the Procedure
Physical recovery usually occurs within a few days, depending on the stage of the pregnancy. Expect some vaginal bleeding and mild cramping for a few days.
A warm bath, a heating pad set on low, or hot water bottle filled with warm water on the abdomen may help relieve discomfort. Rest as needed. Do not do any vigorous activity for a few days. Light housework is fine. Sexual intercourse should be avoided for 2-3 weeks. A normal menstrual period should occur in about 4-6 weeks.
You can get pregnant before your next period. Be sure to make arrangements to prevent pregnancy, especially during the first month after the abortion.
Complications (problems) rarely occur.