Medication abortion is very safe. Serious problems are rare, but like all medical procedures, there can be some risks.
What are the possible risks of taking the abortion pill?
Medication abortion has been used safely in the U.S. for more than 15 years. Serious complications are really rare, but can happen. These include:
- the abortion pills don't work and the pregnancy doesn't end
- some of the pregnancy tissue is left in your uterus
- blood clots in your uterus
- bleeding too much or too long
- allergic reaction to one of the medicines
These problems aren't common. And if they do happen, they're usually easy to take care of with medication or other treatments.
In extremely rare cases, some complications can be very serious or even life threatening. Call your doctor or health center right away if you have:
- heavy bleeding from your vagina that soaks through more than 2 maxi pads in an hour, for 2 or more hours in a row
- passing large clots (bigger than a lemon) for more than 2 hours
- belly pain or cramps that don't get better with pain medication
- a fever of 100.4 or higher more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol
- weakness, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours after taking the misoprostol
You should start to feel better the day after your abortion. Feeling sick with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, or a fever for more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol (the second set of pills) can be a sign of infection. Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of those symptoms. Serious problems can cause death in the most rare cases, but abortion is typically very safe. In fact, pregnancy and childbirth is riskier than most abortions.
If you have complications during your medication abortion, you may have to go back to the doctor's office or health center. In the unlikely event that you are still pregnant, your doctor or nurse will discuss your options with you. You may need another dose of medication or to have an in-clinic abortion to end the pregnancy.
Like all medications, the abortion pill isn't right for everyone. The abortion pill may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or take certain medications. Your doctor or nurse will talk with you and help you decide if the abortion pill is the right option for you.
Does the abortion pill have long-term side effects?
The abortion pill is really safe and effective. It's a super common way to have an abortion, and millions of people have used it safely.
Unless there's a rare and serious complication that's not treated, there's no risk to your future pregnancies or to your overall health. Having an abortion doesn't increase your risk for breast cancer or affect your fertility. It doesn't cause problems for future pregnancies like birth defects, premature birth or low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or infant death.
Serious, long-term emotional problems after an abortion are rare, and about as uncommon as they are after giving birth. They are more likely to happen in people who have to end a pregnancy because of health reasons, people who do not have support around their decision to have an abortion, or people who have a history of mental health problems. Most people feel relief after an abortion.
There are many myths out there about the effects of abortion. Your nurse or doctor can give you accurate information about abortion pill side effects or any other concerns you may have.