The abortion pill, also called a “medication abortion,” is one type of abortion that is only FDA-approved if your pregnancy is under 10 weeks old. 

This date restriction is for your safety. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) writes “Clinicians should counsel patients that medication abortion failure rates, especially continuing pregnancy rates, increase as gestational age approaches 10 weeks (70 days).” This means that the older your pregnancy gets, the greater the risk that you will have a failed medication abortion.

A failed medication abortion results in either an ongoing pregnancy or parts of the terminated pregnancy remaining in the uterus. If the latter occurs, it requires a medical procedure that scrapes the uterus with a curette (a spoon-shaped instrument) to remove the pregnancy. Otherwise, you may bleed for a long time or develop an infection. 

How Does the Abortion Pill Work?

The label “abortion pill” is a misnomer—this abortion method actually involves taking two powerful drugs over a 24-48 hour period. 

The first drug, mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone in your body. This hormone is necessary for pregnancy, and without it, your pregnancy will end. The second drug, misoprostol, causes your uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy through your vagina.

After taking the abortion drugs, you will experience vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping. You might also experience the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Risks associated with abortion are less common but can be severe. According to Mayo Clinic, they include: 

  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
  • An ongoing unwanted pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

Importance of an Ultrasound

Knowing how far along you are is important when determining if you are eligible for the abortion pill. This is where ultrasound comes in. This harmless scan can reveal the age of your pregnancy, as well as the location and viability of your pregnancy—all important factors that you’ll need to know to stay safe.

Next Steps

If you’re looking for a free ultrasound or to speak with someone about your pregnancy options, Calaveras Pregnancy Center is here for you. Contact us today to be connected with one of our caring team members. All appointments are free and confidential.