Search
Return to the BPAS home page
Call 03457 304030 for abortion advice
Request a call back
Use our Pregnancy Calculator to see your treatment options
Find a BPAS Abortion Clinic
NHS Abortions at BPAS
 

 

What is the abortion pill?

The abortion pill is a medicine that ends a pregnancy. The medical name for the abortion pill is mifepristone. It works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down and the pregnancy cannot continue.

The abortion pill is followed by another medicine called misoprostol which makes the womb contract, causing cramping and bleeding similar to a miscarriage.

At least two separate visits to the clinic are required.
It involves taking medicines to cause an early miscarriage (It can feel like having a heavy and more painful period).

At the first appointment the abortion pill (mifepristone) is swallowed. Mifepristone works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone the lining of the uterus (womb) breaks down and the pregnancy can’t continue.

At the second appointment misoprostol tablets are inserted into the vagina either by the woman herself or by the healthcare professional. Misoprostol makes the womb contract, causing cramping and bleeding similar to a miscarriage.

The abortion pill can be used up to 23 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy at bpas. What to expect depends on whether the pregnancy is less than or more than 9 weeks.

Medical abortion: The abortion pill up to 9 weeks

First appointment
A bpas healthcare professional will give you the abortion pill (mifepristone) to swallow when you are in the clinic.

You may then leave the clinic. Most women are able to carry on their usual lives at home or work, but you may have some bleeding and period-like pains.

It is unlikely that the abortion will happen after taking the first pill. However, this can happen occasionally. If you think you may have miscarried after taking the first pill it is likely we will do another ultrasound scan at your next visit.

You may have nausea or vomiting. If you vomit within one and a half hours of taking the pill, please inform the clinic as soon as possible, as the tablet may not have been absorbed.

Second appointment
You will return to the clinic anywhere from 6 hours up to 3 days later. At this visit, misoprostol tablets are placed in the vagina. You can place the tablets yourself or have a healthcare professional place them.

You will be given some antibiotics to take, pain medicine with instructions for use and advice on how to care for yourself.

Our Aftercare Line is also available to you at anytime, 7 days a week on 0800 247 1122.

The misoprostol tablets will cause you to have cramps and bleed heavily. This usually starts about 2 hours after using the misoprostol, but may start sooner. Bleeding and cramping usually last a few hours. You may see large blood clots or tissue at the time of the abortion and you will probably need pain medicine.

Most women pass the pregnancy within 4 or 5 hours after taking the misoprostol. For others it can be quicker or take longer. Almost all women miscarry within a few days. It’s different for every woman.

Here are some comments from women who have had the abortion pill:

"It felt like really bad period cramps. It was bearable and the pain did pass. I used a hot water bottle which really helped."

"The abortion pill wasn’t as easy as I thought. The pain was quite intense for me."

It’s normal to have some bleeding or spotting for up to 4 weeks after the abortion. You should use sanitary pads as it makes it easier to keep track of your bleeding.

Follow-up appointment
The abortion pill is very effective, but it is still very important to have a follow-up appointment to make sure it has worked.

Your follow-up appointment may be 1-2 weeks later in person or 3 weeks later by phone.

Side effects
For most women, medical abortion is like an early miscarriage. It is normal for you to have bleeding and cramping. You might also:

  • feel dizzy
  • feel nauseous or vomit
  • have a headachehave diarrhoea
  • have temporary flushes or sweats

You may feel more at ease if you have someone with you during the abortion.

Click here to read more detailed information about the abortion pill up to 9 weeks.

Medical abortion: The abortion pill after 9 weeks

First appointment
A healthcare professional will give you the abortion pill to swallow while you are in the clinic.

You may then leave the clinic. Most women can carry on their usual lives at home or work but you may have some bleeding and period-like pains.

You may have nausea or vomiting. If you vomit within one and a half hours of taking the pill, please inform the clinic as soon as possible, as the tablet may not have been absorbed.

Second appointment
You will either return to the same bpas clinic or visit a different bpas clinic 1 or 2 days later. You will be admitted and tablets of misoprostol will be placed into your vagina. You may insert these tablets yourself or have a healthcare professional insert them for you.

A nurse will be in attendance and your progress will be monitored. You can rest in bed or be up and about as you wish. The misoprostol tablets will cause you to have cramps and bleeding. This usually starts about 2 hours after the misoprostol is placed, but may start sooner. You may need pain medicine, which we will provide.

The misoprostol will be repeated every 3 hours, until the abortion is complete. Many women will only require 1 or 2 doses of the misoprostol before the abortion happens, but it can take longer. You may need to stay overnight. If you have not completed the abortion after 5 doses of misoprostol then you will rest for 12 hours before starting again.

You may see large blood clots or the pregnancy at the time of the abortion. The nurse will try to make sure that you see very little, but sometimes this is not possible as events can be rapid.

Sometimes the placenta does not come out at the time of delivery. In this case, you may need more misoprostol or need to be taken to the operating theatre. On rare occasions you will need to be transferred to a local NHS hospital for further treatment.

It’s normal to have some bleeding or spotting for up to 4 weeks after the abortion. You should use sanitary pads as it makes it easier to keep track of your bleeding.

Side effects
For most women, medical abortion is like a miscarriage. It is normal for you to have bleeding and cramping. You might also:

  • feel dizzy
  • feel nauseous or have to vomit
  • have a headache
  • have diarrhoea
  • have temporary flushes or sweats

A nurse will be with you at all times and will give you medicine to help control any side effects or pain you might have.

Click here to read more detailed information about the abortion pill after 9 weeks.