What is the abortion pill? Also referred to as a medical or medication abortion, a chemical abortion, and RU-486, this multi-named abortion method is prescribed in a clinic and completed at home.

And while it sounds like a simple enough process, there are side effects and risks you deserve to know about before taking the abortion pill.

In this blog, we outline what the abortion pill is, what side effects and risks you may experience, and what you need to do first before taking this medication.

What is the Abortion Pill?

The abortion pill is an early-pregnancy termination method that involves two drugs. It is designed for women who are in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. If taken after that time, it can pose risks.


The first drug in the abortion pill method is called mifepristone. It ends the pregnancy by blocking your uterus from absorbing the hormone progesterone. Without this hormone, the pregnancy stops growing and is terminated.

Mifepristone is prescribed and typically taken at the abortion clinic.


Misoprostol is the second drug in the abortion pill regimen and is typically taken 24-48 hours after mifepristone. This drug is taken at home where the abortion is completed.

Misoprostol causes cramping and bleeding as your uterus expels the pregnancy tissue.

What are the Side Effects of the Abortion Pill?

According to Mayo Clinic, the medications used in medical abortion cause vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramping. They may also cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

If any of these side effects persist for more than a couple of days, you should contact your healthcare provider for follow-up care.

What are the Risks of the Abortion Pill?

Mayo Clinic lists the following potential risks of a medical abortion: 

  • Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
  • An ongoing unwanted pregnancy if the procedure doesn’t work
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Digestive system discomfort

In addition to these risks, the FDA also warns about potential abdominal pain, feeling sick, and fever:

  • If you have abdominal pain or discomfort, or you are “feeling sick,” including weakness, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, with or without fever, more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol, you should contact your healthcare provider without delay. These symptoms may be a sign of a serious infection or another problem (including an ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy outside the womb). 
  • In the days after treatment, if you have a fever of 100.4°F or higher that lasts for more than 4 hours, you should contact your healthcare provider right away. Fever may be a symptom of a serious infection or another problem.

What Should I Do Before Taking the Abortion Pill?

Before taking the abortion pill, it’s important to verify your pregnancy, confirm the viability of the pregnancy, and determine how far along you are with accurate gestational dating.

Verify Your Pregnancy

We offer free lab-quality pregnancy tests at our center. Sometimes a pregnancy test is taken incorrectly or too early, which can give an inaccurate result. The first step is to take another pregnancy test to verify the result.

Confirm the Viability, Gestation, and Location

Next, you’ll want to get an ultrasound to confirm the viability of the pregnancy, determine the gestational age, and also make sure the pregnancy is located in the uterus.

Sometimes a pregnancy test will come back positive but the pregnancy has already ended as a result of early miscarriage.

The location of the pregnancy is important because pregnancies located outside of the uterus (called ectopic pregnancies) are non-viable and can be threatening to your health. They require a different termination procedure.

Finally, if you are too far into your pregnancy (past 10 weeks), you are ineligible for the abortion pill and it can be dangerous to your health to take it.

No-Cost Pregnancy Services in Southwest Ohio

Schedule an appointment for a no-cost pregnancy test and limited ultrasound at Hope Rising for the answers you need today!