Someone asked us: What herbs can I use to give myself an abortion?
Throughout history and across different cultures, people have used plants and herbs to try to cause an abortion. Some of these plants and herbs include wormwood, rue, salvia, licorice root, mint pennyroyal, and calendula.
Doctors usually recommend that pregnant people avoid these herbs because there’s a chance they can cause a miscarriage. But there is also not enough scientific evidence to show that these plants and herbs work to cause an abortion, or are safe to use to end a pregnancy. And using herbs, plants, or other untested chemicals can put you at risk for things like poisoning, an allergic reaction, or an incomplete abortion. It's also not a good idea to try and hurt yourself to end a pregnancy, because it may cause you serious harm and may not work. If you have complications that are not treated in time by a doctor or nurse, it could lead to a serious infection or even death.
But there are ways to safely have an abortion at home. You can use abortion pills (AKA medication abortion) up to 11 weeks after the first day of your last period to safely end your pregnancy. This is sometimes called "at-home abortion."
You can get abortion pills from many abortion providers, including some Planned Parenthood health centers. Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to have a video or phone visit with a doctor or nurse for the abortion pill and then have the pills mailed to you.
Abortion laws vary by state, and some states have banned abortion or made it very difficult to get. So some people may choose to have self-managed abortion — this is when you find and take abortion pills to end a pregnancy without the help of a doctor or nurse.
Research shows that self-managing an abortion with abortion pills (mifepristone and/or misoprostol) can be safe and effective — especially if you:
- Usually have regular periods, know the first day of your last period, and it’s been less than 10 weeks from the first day of your last period
- Have good information about how to take abortion pills
- Don’t have medical reasons why you shouldn’t use abortion pills (like inherited bleeding disorders, heart or kidney disease, still have an IUD in place, or think you have an ectopic pregnancy)
- Could get urgent medical care if you need it
There may be legal risks to buying and using abortion pills outside of the health care system. Repro Legal Helpline* has more information about this.
Plan C* has more information about the difference between self-managed abortion and getting an abortion from a doctor or nurse, including legal considerations.
After taking abortion pills, it’s normal to have fever, chills, nausea, strong cramping, and heavy bleeding for a day. But go to an emergency room if you have other symptoms that worry you, like:
- soaking more than 2 maxi pads an hour for more than 2 hours in a row
- heavy bleeding for several days
- dizziness, chills, and/or fever lasting more than 24 hours
Emergency doctors and nurses can care for you whether or not they know about a self-managed abortion. In fact, the symptoms after taking abortion pills are the same as a miscarriage, and the medications in abortion pills don’t show up in blood tests.
If you have any concerns about your health, including any symptoms you’re experiencing during or after an abortion, Planned Parenthood is here to help (even if we didn’t provide your abortion).
*Note: Planned Parenthood is not responsible for nor does it endorse any legal, medical, or other advice or information provided by any of the entities identified or referenced herein or by any other third parties, whether referenced herein or not.