Procedures: Non-Surgical/Medical Abortions

If you’re considering an abortion, there is a lot you need to know. Just like any other medical procedure or surgery you might have, you have a right to be informed about the risks, methods, and after-care options available to you. There are several types of abortion procedures. The gestational age of your baby will determine which procedure is available, and each comes with different risks.


A medical abortion is a non-surgical abortion method that ends a pregnancy with a combination of oral, vaginal, or injectable drugs. This is frequently referred to as the “abortion pill.” These procedures can only be used in the earliest stages of pregnancy—usually up to 7 weeks from your last period. You must be able to attend all doctor visits required and have access to emergency care until the abortion is complete (sometimes up to a month after your first appointment). If this method fails to end the pregnancy, you may need to have an additional surgical abortion.

Some of the possible side effects and risks of a non-surgical abortion are:

  • Cramping or abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding for 1-2 weeks (but may last up to 30 days)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Heavy bleeding or hemorrhage
  • Pain, swelling, or redness in the genital area



Mifepristone, a drug also known as RU-486, is often referred to as “the abortion pill.” Mifepristone blocks the body’s production of progesterone, an important pregnancy hormone. After you have taken multiple doses of this drug, you will return to your doctor’s office to take a second drug, misoprostol, which causes contractions to expel the fetus from your uterus. Heavy bleeding begins several hours or days after taking the misoprostol.  To read more about this drug, click here.


Methotrexate, a chemical commonly used to treat certain types of cancer, is an injectable drug that ends pregnancy by interfering with the growth of the baby and the placenta. This drug is also used with misoprostol, which causes contractions to empty your uterus. Heavy bleeding begins several hours or days after taking the misoprostol.

It is also important to know that abortion is NOT an FDA approved use of methotrexate and may cause severe birth defects if the abortion fails.

To learn more about these procedures and other options available to you, schedule an appointment today to speak with one of our counselors!

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