Most medication abortions in the U.S. use two different medicines: mifepristone and misoprostol. Recently, anti-abortion organizations sued the FDA to try to ban the mifepristone abortion pill, even though it's been used safely in the U.S. for more than 20 years. That case is on hold, and both mifepristone and misoprostol remain legal in states where abortion is still legal.
But did you know you can have a medication abortion using misoprostol alone? It's also a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about having a medication abortion with just misoprostol.
Misoprostol is safe.
Millions of people have used misoprostol for decades to end early pregnancies safely. Respected medical organizations like The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ipas, and the World Health Organization agree that misoprostol-only abortions are a safe way to have a medication abortion. Using misoprostol only has a complication rate of less than 1%. Misoprostol is also used for miscarriage management and the prevention and treatment of ulcers. There’s no risk to your future pregnancies or to your overall health.
When you take misoprostol, you’ll experience cramping and bleeding during your abortion, which is totally normal. Your nurse or doctor will talk you through everything that will happen and can answer any questions you may have. Most people can go back to normal activities the day after a medication abortion.
Misoprostol is effective.
How well misoprostol works depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy, how you take the medicine, and how many doses you take. Misoprostol-only abortions work 85-95% of the time. If it doesn’t work, you may need to take another dose, or you may need an in-clinic abortion.
Misoprostol is available.
You can get misoprostol (or a prescription for it) from a doctor, nurse, health clinic, or Planned Parenthood health center. You may be able to get the abortion pills for free or low cost. In some states, you can make an online, or telehealth appointment, and get your misoprostol mailed to you or pick them up at a local pharmacy.
To learn about services available in your area, contact your nearest Planned Parenthood health center.
There’s more than one way to take misoprostol.
There are a few different ways to take misoprostol. You can put the pills in your vagina (vaginal), under your tongue (sublingual), or in your mouth between your cheeks and gums (buccal). The medicine will slowly break down, and your body will absorb the medicine through the skin in your vagina or mouth. Your doctor or nurse will talk you through the best way for you to take the pills given your situation.