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At Planned Parenthood, before you take the abortion pills, you’ll meet with a nurse or doctor, either in person at the health center, or by video or phone, to go over how to take the pills. Your doctor or nurse will give you detailed directions about when and how to take the medicines. You may also get some antibiotics to prevent infection.

Thinking about getting the abortion pill?

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What happens during a medication abortion?

At Planned Parenthood, your doctor or nurse will give you 2 different medicines to end your pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol. Once you receive your medicine, you can have your abortion at home or in another comfortable place that you choose.

First, you’ll take a pill called mifepristone. Pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to grow normally. Mifepristone blocks your body’s own progesterone, stopping the pregnancy from growing. 

If you were given or told to take medicine for nausea or cramping, you’ll take that 30 minutes before you take the misoprostol. Then you’ll take the second medicine, misoprostol, either right away or up to 48 hours later. There are 4 misoprostol pills that you’ll take in one of the following ways: 

Buccal

Taken 24-48 hours after taking mifepristone.

  • You will put 4 misoprostol pills between your cheek and gum, 2 on each side of your mouth.
  • You will leave them in place for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, you’ll swallow what’s left of the pills with water.

Sublingual

Taken 24-48 hours after taking mifepristone.

  • You will put 4 misoprostol pills under your tongue.
  • You will leave them there for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, you’ll swallow what’s left of the pills with water.

Vaginal 

Inserted 0-48 hours after taking mifepristone.

  • While lying down you will put 4 misoprostol pills in your vagina and push them in far enough so they don't fall out.
  • You will stay lying down for 30 minutes while they dissolve.
  • After 30 minutes you’ll be able to get up and move around. If any pieces come out of your vagina you won’t need to put them back in.

Some people will need a second dose of misoprostol. If your nurse or doctor tells you to take a second dose, you’ll take 4 more misoprostol pills 4 hours later. Misoprostol causes cramping and bleeding, which empties your uterus. If you don’t have any bleeding within 24 hours after taking the second medicine, call your nurse or doctor.

The length of time from when you take the first pill until you finish passing the pregnancy can be anywhere from 4-48 hours, depending on how you take your medicines.

How do I know if the abortion pill worked?

The effectiveness depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy and when you take the medicine. 

You can make sure that your abortion worked by taking a pregnancy test or getting an ultrasound or blood test. Your nurse or doctor will also talk you through everything you need to know.

The abortion pills usually work, but if they don’t you can take more medicine or have an in-clinic abortion to complete the abortion.