Are you considering an abortion with pills and are concerned about the side effects of mifepristone or misoprostol? Have you already used the pills and want to check if what you’re experiencing is normal? Knowing what side effects to anticipate after using mifepristone and misoprostol can offer reassurance and comfort during a medical abortion. It also ensures that in the rare case of a complication, women are able to detect warning signs early and quickly seek appropriate care.
Because mifepristone and misoprostol (the two safe abortion pills) play different roles during a medical abortion, their side effects also vary. In fact, the most common side effects of the abortion pills are actually signs that the pills are doing their jobs correctly.
Mifepristone is used for an abortion in combination with misoprostol. It is the first pill that is taken, usually 24-48 hours before using misoprostol.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and dizziness are all potential side effects of mifepristone.1 A light meal or snack, fluids, and rest can help with these side effects. Some women experience light bleeding after using mifepristone, while others don’t. Both are normal.
Women are commonly able to go about their day as usual after using mifepristone.
Misoprostol can be used for an abortion with mifepristone, or by itself in repeated doses. The side effects of misoprostol are usually much more pronounced than those from mifepristone.
Heavy cramping and bleeding are the two most obvious side effects of misoprostol. Unpleasant as they may be, these side effects are signs that the misoprostol is working. Women can commonly experience cramping and bleeding that is heavier than their typical menstrual period.
The most intense bleeding and cramping can occur within the first 5 hours after using misoprostol. It is also common to pass clots within the blood. Bleeding will usually slow within 24 hours, but may continue for multiple weeks after the abortion. The bleeding should gradually get lighter day-by-day.2
Though heavy bleeding is normal after using misoprostol, at no point should a woman soak through two menstrual pads in an hour for two consecutive hours. If a woman experiences this level of bleeding, she should seek emergency care.
Like mifepristone, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and dizziness are all common side effects of misoprostol. Additionally, a woman may experience a short, low spike in fever that lasts less than 24 hours of taking misoprostol. Fevers that are over 38 degree C or lasts longer than 24 hours should prompt women to seek medical care.3
So now that you know what possible side effects to expect from the abortion pills, how can you deal with them? First, we suggest using pain medication, like ibuprofen, before using misoprostol. This should help manage the intensity of cramping before it ever becomes too much. To reduce the likelihood of diziness or nausea, make sure you stay hydrated through the abortion. You can also eat to your comfort level; soup, toast, and crackers can usually help settle upset stomachs. Lastly, ensure that you are in a safe, comfortable environment when you use the pills. Having distractions, like a book, a movie, or a trusted friend, can also help lower overall feelings of anxiety and stress.
Want more information about safe abortion with pills? You can read more on the instructional page of our website. While you’re there, you can also review everything you need to know before using the pills and what to expect afterwards. As always, stay connected with us on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Claire is a teacher, reproductive rights advocate, and the manager of https://www.howtouseabortionpill.org/