Medical Abortion – Procedures, Risks and Side Effects

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Dr. Deepinder Kaur (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist)
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Medical Abortion - Procedures, Risks and Side Effects

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Medical abortion procedures are carried out usually in the early weeks of pregnancy. A couple who is not prepared for an unplanned pregnancy due to personal problems, health issues, or any other problem may choose abortion. There are two types of abortions: medical abortion (also known as abortion pill) and surgical abortion. A couple may consider medical abortion as it is non-invasive and effective. Read on to learn more about medical abortion. 

What is Medical Abortion? 

A medical abortion, commonly known as ‘abortion pill’, involves taking two types of abortion pills to terminate the pregnancy. No surgery or anaesthesia is required for a medical abortion. However, there are legal requirements in certain states and countries for carrying out this procedure.

What Are the Types of Medical Abortion Procedures? 

Medical abortion can be carried out through two types. They are:

  • Methotrexate & Misoprostol (MTX)
  • Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and Misoprostol – also known as the RU-486 or the abortion pill

Methotrexate & Misoprostol (MTX):

The MTX abortion procedure is used for the first 49 days of pregnancy. It involves ingesting a medicine used for abortion known as the ‘Methotrexate,’ during a visit to the clinic followed by taking Misoprostol after 3-7 days orally or vaginally. Antibiotics are administered to prevent infections, and this procedure is known to expel the foetus through contractions between a matter of a few hours to days. 

Risks and Side Effects:

The risks and side effects associated with the MTX abortion procedure include:

  • Nausea, cramping, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive bleeding.
  • A 5% failure rate, in which case a surgical abortion procedure will be needed as a follow-up.
  • Complications for women who have chronic diseases like liver or kidney disease and acute inflammatory bowel disease – this abortion procedure is advised against for such women.
  • Complications in women who have an intrauterine device in place – this abortion procedure is NOT advised for such women.

 

Mifepristone (Mifeprex) and Misoprostol:

The RU-486 or the abortion pill procedure involves administering a mifepristone tablet that is followed up by a misoprostol tablet for kickstarting contractions in the uterus to expel the foetus. Progesterone is blocked in the uterus lining using the medical abortion pill which prevents pregnancy from continuing. Misoprostol tablets are given after 36 to 72 hours once mifepristone is given orally during your visit to the clinic which helps expel the foetus in a few hours to days. 

Risks and Side Effects:

Here are the possible side effects of this medical abortion procedure:

  • You won’t be eligible for this procedure if you have ovarian mass, high blood pressure, intrauterine devices and chronic diseases.
  • There is an 8-10% failure rate with this procedure.
  • Infections, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea are some of the other side-effects.

Your doctor will do ultrasound tests and examine your medical and family history to evaluate whether you are suitable and eligible for these procedures. Make sure you have an ample supply of absorbent sanitary pads and that you get plenty of bed rest once you go through these abortion procedures.  

If you’ve had a history of ectopic pregnancies or if you are at risk of certain medical complications due to health disorders, please consult a healthcare professional. Be sure to keep in mind that you may or may not be eligible for these procedures based on your health.

Also Read:

Chances of Conceiving after Abortion
Period after Abortion

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