Aftercare Information for Medical Abortion

Medical abortion is a safe and effective solution for unwanted pregnancy that South Avenue Women’s Services offers at our Rochester practice. Compared to surgical abortion, women sometimes prefer the added convenience and privacy of medical abortion, which is completed in your own home.

After you’ve completed the final phase of your medical abortion, there is some important information you should be aware of. If you have any questions, our medical professionals are always available to help.

What to Expect After a Medical Abortion:

You will experience vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping after you’ve self-administered the misoprostol pills to complete your medical abortion. This is to be expected, as it is a result of your uterus expelling the pregnancy and indicates that the procedure has been successful.

There are a few other common side effects that may occur after the insertion of the misoprostol medication. Most of these will clear up on their own and are not cause for concern. After you self-administer the misoprostol pills, you may experience the following:

  • Blood clots
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Light bleeding/spotting for up to two weeks

Medical Abortion Aftercare

At your office appointment, your doctor will prescribe you Tylenol #3 or Vicodin for pain management. We strongly recommend you take this medication at the beginning of the at-home medical abortion phase (when you administer the misoprostol) and every four hours after, as needed.

Please adhere to the following instructions as you recover from your medical abortion:

  • Do not drive or operate machinery while taking your pain medication.
  • Do not use other pain medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), Aleve, or Aspirin, as these might counter-act the misoprostol.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent faintness or dizziness. You may eat lightly.
  • If you get up from lying down, get up slowly and use support.
  • We recommend that you insert the four misoprostol tablets when you have no other obligations such as childcare, work, or social events. If possible, you should send your children to stay with a relative or friend for the day.
  • It is best if your partner, or a close friend or relative who can help you during the cramping and bleeding phase of the process, stays with you.
  • You may use sanitary pads. You should not use tampons.
  • There is no sexual intercourse during this process.
  • You may pass what appears to be a small glob of tissue in addition to blood clots. Flush anything that you pass down the toilet.
  • Eventually, the heavy bleeding and cramping will diminish. You should then rest.

Complications of Medical Abortion

Although medical abortion is a safe and FDA-approved procedure, there are always risks associated with any form of medical care. If you experience any of the following, please call the medical professionals at South Avenue Women’s Services promptly.

Heavy Bleeding

While it is a rare occurrence, medical abortion can cause heavy vaginal bleeding that requires further medical attention. If you are soaking through two pads an hour for more than two hours, call our office immediately.

There are several ways to treat heavy bleeding. In an emergency, our doctors will perform a suction D & C—the same procedure used to surgically terminate a pregnancy. Occasionally (four in every 2000 cases), extensive heavy bleeding requires a blood transfusion.

Medical Abortion Failure

Failure to terminate the pregnancy occurs in only one or two percent of medical abortion cases, however it is possible. There are two instances of possible failure:

  1. The pregnancy stops growing but fails to pass, even after the self-administration of the misoprostol. If you experience little to no bleeding, your abortion may not be complete. We will confirm an incomplete abortion at your follow-up ultrasound appointment. Here, you will be given the option to administer the misoprostol pills again or choose to have the pregnancy terminated surgically.
  2. The pregnancy continues to grow, despite the use of both mifepristone and misoprostol. This will be detected at your follow-up appointment. In these cases, we suggest you strongly consider having a surgical abortion, as misoprostol has been known to cause deformities in babies exposed during early pregnancy.

Follow-Up Appointment for Medical Abortion

After your medical abortion, you are required to return to our Rochester office for a follow-up ultrasound exam within a few days of the procedure. Ultrasound is the best way to make sure that the process is complete. At this visit, we will also help you decide on a birth control plan and provide you with the resources you need for effective birth control. We will schedule the follow-up exam at your first visit.

Medical Abortion & Future Pregnancy

Medical abortion has no known effect on future pregnancies. Many women have successfully conceived and delivered a healthy baby later on after a medical abortion, when the time is right and they are ready.