Medication abortion is very safe. In fact, it’s safer than many other medicines like penicillin, Tylenol, and Viagra. Serious problems are rare, but like all medicines, there can be risks.
What are the possible risks of taking the abortion pill?
Medication abortion has been used safely in the U.S. for more than 20 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 medicine 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 no bleeding within 24 hours after you take misoprostol
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
pass large clots (bigger than a lemon) for more than 2 hours
have belly pain or cramps that don’t get better with pain medication
have a fever of 100.4 or higher more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol
have weakness, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours after taking 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 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 medicine 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.
If you have any questions or concerns during or after your abortion, your nearest Planned Parenthood is available to help you, even if we didn’t provide your abortion.
Does the abortion pill have long-term side effects?
Medication abortion 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 don't have support around their decision to have an abortion, or people who have a history of mental health problems.
Studies show that most people feel relief after an abortion, but it’s also normal to have a range of emotions — everybody’s experience is different. You can call All-Options or Exhale for free, confidential, and non-judgmental emotional support after your abortion, no matter how you’re feeling. For spiritual support before, during, or after an abortion, check out Abortions Welcome.
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.