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Mifepristone and Misoprostol: How they Work in Medical Abortion

Mifepristone and Misoprostol: How they Work in Medical Abortion

  • April 12, 2023

What is Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is a non-surgical method of ending an early pregnancy through the use of medications. This procedure is typically performed within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and it has been hailed as a safe, effective, and private option for women seeking to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. There are different types of medical abortions, each utilizing a specific set of medications to terminate the pregnancy. The two most commonly used medications for medical abortion are Mifepristone and Misoprostol, known for their combined effectiveness.

Types of Medical Abortion

There are several types of medical abortions, but the most commonly used method is a combination of Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Mifepristone is a medication that blocks the hormone progesterone, which is needed for the pregnancy to continue. Misoprostol is a prostaglandin, which causes the uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy. Another type of medical abortion is the methotrexate and Misoprostol regimen, which involves taking methotrexate to stop the growth of the pregnancy, followed by Misoprostol to expel the pregnancy.

How Does the Abortion Pill Work

Mifepristone works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is essential for maintaining pregnancy. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and the pregnancy cannot continue. Misoprostol is then taken to induce uterine contractions and expel the contents of the uterus. This combination of medications is highly effective, resulting in a success rate of 95-97% when taken within the first nine weeks of pregnancy.

Risks and Complications Involved

While medical abortion is considered safe and effective, there are risks associated with any medical procedure. Some potential risks include incomplete abortion, which may require a surgical intervention; heavy bleeding, which may require a blood transfusion; infection, which may necessitate antibiotic treatment; and allergic reactions to the medications. It is crucial for women considering a medical abortion to discuss these risks and the necessary follow-up care with their healthcare provider to ensure they make an informed decision.


The recovery period following a medical abortion varies from woman to woman. Some women may experience mild cramping and bleeding for a few days, while others may experience heavier bleeding and stronger cramps. It is essential to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding medications, follow-up appointments, and any restrictions on physical activity. Most women can return to their normal activities within a few days, but it is essential to listen to your body and prioritize self-care during this time.

Why Mifepristone and Misoprostol

Mifepristone and Misoprostol are widely considered the most effective medications for medical abortion due to their high success rate, minimal side effects, and ease of administration. The combination of these medications ensures a complete and safe termination of pregnancy, with few risks as compared to other methods.

Availability and Use

Mifepristone and Misoprostol are available by prescription only and should be administered by a licensed healthcare provider. The medications are typically prescribed together, with the patient taking Mifepristone first, followed by Misoprostol 24 to 48 hours later. It is essential to follow the provider’s instructions regarding the timing and dosage of the medications for optimal effectiveness and safety.

Legal Consideration

Laws surrounding medical abortion and the availability of Mifepristone and Misoprostol vary by country and even region within certain countries. In some places, access to these medications may be limited based on gestational age, mandatory waiting periods, or other restrictions. It is crucial to be aware of the legal considerations surrounding medical abortion in your area and consult a healthcare provider who can guide you in navigating these regulations.

When to See a Doctor

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional if you are considering a medical abortion. They can provide guidance on the appropriate medications, timing, and dosage and discuss potential risks and complications. Furthermore, seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, heavy bleeding, or signs of an infection following a medical abortion, as these may indicate complications requiring prompt medical intervention.

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