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Medical abortion:

The Abortion pill from 10 weeks to 24 weeks

This method can be used at BPAS from 10 weeks, up to 23 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy.

VIDEO: The abortion pill after 10 weeks

First appointment

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

If your blood group is Rhesus-negative you will also have an anti-D injection. You will be given a tablet to take by mouth called mifepristone. This medication makes the uterus more sensitive to a medication called misoprostol, which is used to induce contractions (start labour). You will go home and return for the rest of your treatment on a different day. If you vomit within 1.5 hours of taking this tablet you may need to return to the clinic for another dose, as you may be required to take the pill again.

If you are 22 weeks pregnant or more, it is necessary to administer an injection into the fetus to stop the heartbeat before the abortion takes place. This is called “feticide” and more detail can be found here.

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 to the clinic and misoprostol will be administered as a vaginal pessary, every few hours until all the fetus and placenta are passed. You will be awake throughout the process, but will be given painkillers as needed and will also be able to use gas and air. The healthcare professional looking after you will try to make the process as comfortable as possible.

On average it takes about 6 hours for the labour and delivery, but this can vary. In some cases it may be quicker, but in others it may take over 24 hours and you will need to stay overnight in the clinic. In a minority of procedures, the placenta does not pass spontaneously and it is necessary to perform an additional procedure, usually under general anaesthetic, to remove it.

You may see large blood clots or the fetus 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.

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.

Risks and Complications