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There are two different ways to have a medication abortion: 

  • Using 2 different medicines to end your pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol.
  • Using only misoprostol to end your pregnancy.

This page talks about having an abortion using mifepristone and misoprostol together. Read about having an abortion using only misoprostol here.

Both types of medication abortion are safe, effective, and legal in states where abortion is legal.

Thinking about getting the abortion pill?

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How do I take abortion pills?

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 pills. 

Your doctor or nurse will give you 2 different medicines to end your pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol. Once you get 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, which stops the pregnancy from growing. 

Then you’ll take the second medicine, misoprostol, either right away or up to 48 hours later.

30 minutes before you take misoprostol:

  • Take pain medicine to help with cramps. Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) works the best, but you can take a different pain medicine like acetaminophen (Tylenol) if you need to. But don’t take aspirin because it can make you bleed more. 
  • Take medicine for nausea if you have it.

How do I take the second medicine?

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). They’ll slowly break down, and your body will absorb the medicine through the skin in your vagina or mouth. Don’t just swallow the pills — this will make them not work as well, and will probably make you feel very nauseous.

Your doctor or nurse will talk you through the best way for you to take the pills. Here are the steps for each method:


Take 24-48 hours after you take mifepristone.

  • Tuck 2 pills between your cheek and your gum on the side of your mouth. Do the same thing with 2 more pills on the other side of your mouth.
  • Leave them there for 30 minutes.
  • If there are still pieces of the pills left after 30 minutes, swallow them with water. 


Take 24-48 hours after you take mifepristone.

  • Put 4 misoprostol pills under your tongue.
  • Leave them there for 30 minutes.
  • If there are still pieces of the pills left after 30 minutes, swallow them with water. 


Insert 0-48 hours after you take mifepristone.

  • Wash your hands.
  • Put 4 pills deep into your vagina, as far as they’ll go. Put in 1 pill at a time.
  • Lay down for 30 minutes so they don’t fall out.
  • Pieces of the pills may fall out of your vagina later. If it’s been more than 30 minutes since you put that dose of pills in your vagina, your body should have absorbed enough of the medicine so you don’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.

How do I know if the abortion pill worked?

Abortion pills work really well. Exactly how well depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy when you take the medicine, and how many doses of misoprostol you take. Abortion pills usually work — but if they don’t, you can take more medicine or have an in-clinic abortion to complete the abortion.

If you get your abortion pills from a health care provider like Planned Parenthood, they may give you a special, extra-sensitive pregnancy test to use after your abortion. You may also be able to get an ultrasound or blood test to confirm that the abortion worked. Your nurse or doctor will also talk you through everything you need to know.

Regular pregnancy tests that you get at the store and some health centers may give you a false positive result for up to 5 weeks after your abortion — that’s because it takes a while for the pregnancy hormones to leave your body, and the test can pick those up, but it doesn’t mean you’re pregnant.

However, it IS possible to get pregnant very soon after an abortion — even if pregnancy tests are coming up positive or your period hasn’t started yet. So if you’ve had sex without using birth control since having an abortion, a positive pregnancy test could mean that you’re pregnant again.

If you’re not on hormonal birth control, you should have a period within 8 weeks after your abortion. If you’re not using hormonal birth control and you don’t get your period 8 weeks after your abortion, call your doctor or a Planned Parenthood health center.

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