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Medication Abortion

Medication Abortion

Various drug regimens and medications may be used to end an early pregnancy.

Medications used to end an early pregnancy may work to block a hormone that is needed for the pregnancy to continue and/or work by causing contractions of the uterus to cause the pregnancy to end.

You should speak with your provider for more detailed information about the specific regimen that is right for you. Your provider can also explain any requirements related to in-person visits, physical examinations, and the correct use of medication.

Risks Associated with Medication Abortion

There are some risks and problems that can occur with medication abortion. Talk with your provider about potential risks.

Following a medication abortion, vaginal bleeding and uterine cramping will occur in almost all patients. In some cases, bleeding can be very heavy. This can feel like a heavy, crampy period. Expect bleeding or spotting to occur for an average of nine to 16 days, although it may continue for 30 days or more. In some cases, too much bleeding may require blood transfusions, treatment with medication, and/or surgery. Other risks related to medication abortion may include infection, incomplete abortion, or the need for emergency medical treatment. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. As with any medical procedure, death is a risk.  Death related to abortion occurs in less than one of every 100,000 abortions.

It is rare, but some individuals may have feelings of sadness, guilt, anger, trouble sleeping or doing daily activities after an abortion. These symptoms can also occur after the birth of a baby or after a miscarriage. Call your provider, community mental health authority, local health department, or local human services office for help if you have any of these symptoms that are strong or lasting. 

Risks and Complications associated with Pregnancy and Delivery

Most pregnancies are normal. Most individuals who have good care during pregnancy and delivery will give birth to a baby without problems. However, some individuals may have health conditions or pregnancy problems that require special care or hospitalization during pregnancy.  Just as there are risks with abortion, there are risks with continuing a pregnancy.

Some of the pregnancy problems that may lead to hospitalization include a pregnancy growing outside uterus (tubal pregnancy), miscarriage, excessive vomiting during pregnancy, urinary tract infection, heavy bleeding or infection, diabetes, preeclampsia and eclampsia (causing swelling, high blood pressure and possible seizures), blood clots, premature labor, death of the fetus, newborn or pregnant person.

Maternal death occurs approximately 17 times out of every 100,000 live births in the U.S.

Available Services

Many services may be available to you if you choose to continue your pregnancy. You can contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, your local health department, or your local human services office to learn about help in your community.  You may also read about prenatal care and parenting information here: PREGNANCY AND INFANCY HEALTH EDUCATION PACKET (michigan.gov).

If you would like information about adoption, contact your local human services office or a private adoption agency.     

iii M. Paul, E.S. Lichtenberg, L. Borgatta, D.A. Grimes, P.G. Stubblefield, M.D. Creinin; Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy: Comprehensive Abortion Care. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, p. 225.

iv CDC Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System, December 2016 https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pmss.html