When a woman finds out about an unplanned pregnancy, her first reaction might be to want to have a medication (also called chemical) abortion, because it is less medically intrusive than surgical abortion. Lifeline does not refer for nor provides abortion services, but we are committed to giving women all the latest, medically accurate information related to abortion. Here we will learn what the abortion pill is and how early it must be taken.
When a woman decides to have a medication abortion, she first takes a pill called mifepristone. It acts by blocking progesterone, the natural hormone produced by the body to sustain a pregnancy. Soon, the growing baby loses its supply of oxygen and nutrients and detaches from the uterine lining. The woman then takes misoprostol, which provokes contractions to force the developing baby and the placenta out of the uterus.
If you would like to learn more about hormones and the abortion pill, read our article “how the abortion pill really works”.
The pain varies from one woman to another. Some women report feeling extremely ill, while others describe having a very heavy period accompanied by a lot of bleeding and painful cramps. In essence, medication abortion has similar symptoms to a miscarriage. In addition to bleeding and cramping, women tend to also experience:
The other, perhaps unexpected, pain may be emotional. Indeed, a woman who goes through the entire process alone may feel isolated and vulnerable, especially in cases when the pain is extreme. It’s important to know that help is available, which is why Lifeline exists: so that no woman has to go through an unexpected pregnancy alone.
The abortion pill may be taken up until the 11th week of pregnancy. As for how early a woman can take it, waiting until the 6th week of pregnancy is often required. Before the 6th week, the risk of miscarriage is high, but once that 6th-week mark has been passed, it drops to only 10%. Sonographers can also clearly confirm pregnancy on an ultrasound at 6 weeks.
Waiting until the 6th week and getting an ultrasound is also essential in order to rule out ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when the baby is growing outside of the uterus, in the fallopian tubes. Medical providers usually consider it a medical emergency because the tubes cannot stretch enough to accommodate the new life. Therefore, there is a risk of tubal rupture, which could cause severe infection and even death of the woman. It’s important to know that the abortion pill cannot terminate an ectopic pregnancy. Read more about ectopic pregnancy here.
At Lifeline, we offer no-cost limited obstetrical ultrasounds that can help confirm that the pregnancy is located in the uterus where it should be.
The first step before taking the abortion pill should be to confirm pregnancy with a pregnancy test because a lot of factors could impact a woman’s cycle and cause a late or missing period (examples include a strenuous workout routine, stress, weight loss, hormonal issues, etc). Lifeline provides lab-quality pregnancy tests performed by trained medical professionals. We recommend the woman wait until after the first week of her missed period in order to get an accurate result and avoid a false negative. If the test is positive, an ultrasound should be the next logical step to exclude the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, which could be life-threatening.
If you believe you may be pregnant, you can schedule an appointment with Lifeline online.
At Lifeline, we offer pregnancy confirmation through pregnancy testing and limited obstetrical ultrasound at no cost to all our clients. Our goal is to make sure that every woman is safe, informed, and able to make a decision that will affect her positively.
In addition to our clinical services, we provide professional counseling, emotional support, medically accurate information about all pregnancy options, as well as educational prenatal and parenting programs for women and men. All our services are confidential so the woman can feel comfortable exploring her emotions, options, and goals for the future.
To schedule an appointment, go to our appointment page. We usually don’t have long waiting times and can set up an appointment for the same or the next day.
Have you taken the first abortion pill already and are having regrets? It may not be too late. The abortion pill reversal is an evidence-based protocol that relies on taking progesterone to counteract the effects of mifepristone and continue the pregnancy. Learn about abortion pill reversal here.
We are here for you and ready to walk with you every step of the way!