Orlando Women’s Center –”where quality care is tradition”.
Do Abortion Pills Have Side Effects ?
Abortion pills are a highly and effective way to terminate an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy. The abortion pill procedure has been legal in the US since Sept. 2000. (Mifepristone) was approved by the FDA The abortion pill cannot be purchased at Walgreens or other pharmacies in the US. The pill procedure can only be performed at a qualified abortion clinic, an experienced private Physician who performs abortions or hospitals. One is able to buy the abortion pill online. The FDA discourages this because they are unable to determine what the medication contain or even if they contain the right dosage. Unsupervised medical abortions can lead to serious complications and can lead to the abortion pill affecting future pregnancies by preventing fertility.
What are other possible abortion pill side effects?
1. Mild to Severe pain
Is the abortion pill painful? After taking both sets of pills (Mifepristone and Misoprostol) the incidence of severe pain may occur in 4 to 8% of patients that need more than Ibuprofen, Advil or Motrin to control their pain. More than 50% of women do not need to take any pain medication during the procedure process. Most women describe the discomfort as the kind experienced during a heavy menses. To help to reduce the discomfort, it is suggested to perform a uterine massage or apply a heating pad to the lower abdomen.
Lower abdominal cramping cannot only be from the uterus, but from the gastrointestinal tract. It is not uncommon to have diarrhea as a side effect from the Misoprostol tablet. The diarrhea and cramps associated with it is usually mild and generally stops after passage of the pregnancy tissue. If the diarrhea is severe, it can cause severe dehydration and may require IV hydration. In some cases, severe sepsis can be a reason for diarrhea. If diarrhea lasts more than 24 hours, the woman should follow-up with medical personnel.
3. Prolonged Bleeding
Does the abortion pill cause bleeding? Bleeding occurs when performing the abortion pill procedure 99% of the time. When there is no bleeding, one must consider a failed abortion or an ectopic pregnancy. If the pregnancy is very early, one may not bleed at all. Bleeding normally lasts between 7 to 16 days. Approximately 10 percent of patients may bleed for 30 days and 1% may bleed up to 60 days. Heavy bleeding is defined as bleeding 2 pads an hour for 2 hours in a row.
4. Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea may occur with after taking the Mifepristone tablet. Vomiting may occur in a small percentage of patients. If vomiting occurs within 2 hours of taking RU 486, the pill should be taken again. Nausea and vomiting is more common after taking the Misoprostol tablet. If nausea and vomiting continue for more than 24 hours, that is a indication to follow-up with medical personnel.
5. Severe Headaches
There are people that ask; “which is better, abortion pills or surgical? Both procedures are highly efficient and safe. Abortion pill advantages are the following: 1) abortion pill procedures can be performed earlier, 2) it can be performed in the privacy of their home, 3) the woman has the power of when and who she is with to terminate the pregnancy and 4) she does not have to undergo the anxiety and stress of undergoing a surgical procedure. There are women that experience mild to severe headaches and dizziness after consuming the abortion pills. It normally on lasts a few hours. If these symptoms last for 24 hours or longer, then one should follow-up with medical personnel.
Fever and chills are a very common side effect after taking the second pill (Misoprostol). The temperature rarely goes above 100.4 and generally goes away in 24 hours or less. For a temperature greater than 101.4, the woman should go to a medical facility for proper evaluation.
7. Incomplete abortion
In 1 to 3% of cases, the medical abortion pill may not cause a complete abortion. Prolonged bleeding, cramping and low grade temperature may indicate pregnancy tissue may be retained in the intrauterine cavity. A sonogram (ultrasound) can be performed to see if the uterine cavity is empty. If not, more abortion pills may be given or a surgical procedure may be performed to complete the procedure.
8. Failed abortion pills
One of the most common questions asked by women is if the abortion pills fail. Failure may occur in 1 to 3% of cases. Generally the earlier in pregnancy the abortion pill procedure is performed, the higher the success rate.
9. Foul Vaginal Discharge
A foul vaginal discharge along with diarrhea, fatigue, tiredness, weakness, dizziness and low grade temperature can be associated with a sepsis. Immediate medical attention must be sought by patients who present with these symptoms. This may be a serious sign of infection that requires hospitalization with IV antibiotics and surgery to assure evacuation of the uterus.
Diarrhea may occur with taking Misoprostol tablets or infection. If loose stools lasts for 24 hours or longer, medical evaluation is recommended to evaluate for dehydration or infection.
It is very common to feel dizzy after taking the abortion pills. This can be a side effect from either the Mifepristone or Misoprostol tablet. If dizziness or lightheadedness occurs longer than 24 hours, then one should be evaluated by medical personnel.
POINTS TO BE NOTED BEFORE TAKING PILL.
1)There are times as noted when the abortion pill does not work for some patients. The incidence of this occurring is somewhere between 1% and 4%.
2) Contraindications to usage of the abortion pill include undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, ectopic pregnancy, allergy to medications used in performing the abortion pill procedure, Cushing’s disease, severe anemia, clotting disorders, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, severe cervicitis and hereditary porphyrias.
3) Can Abortion Pill be free? There are places where the abortion pill may be obtained at a significant discount or even free at times. One should always be under medical supervision when undergoing the Abortion Pill process.
4) If one has contraindications to having the medical abortion procedure performed, there is still the surgical option which is highly safe and effective and has minimal side effects.
Do Abortion Pills Fail?
There are possible signs or symptoms of when the abortion pill don’t work:
1. If you haven’t bled within 12 to 24 hours after taking the pills.
2. If you are still feeling symptoms of being pregnant (nausea, vomiting, weakness, tired, fatigue, hypersalivation, no change in appetite) a few days after taking the abortion pills.
3. Breast tenderness lasting for longer than a week to 10 days after taking second pills (Misoprostol).
4. If pregnancy test remains positive after 3 to 4 weeks after taking the second set of pills.
5) If you continue to experience cramping and bleeding for more than 3 weeks after taking the last dose of medication, it possibly could mean that the medical abortion did not work. There are a few patients that may experience light bleeding off and on for 30 to 60 days.
A follow-up appointment is generally made anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks after the first visit to assure that the medical abortion procedure has been completed. Studies show that a negative pregnancy test at 3 to 4 weeks is just as effective as performing a sonogram in assuring the abortion procedure is complete.
In summary; one now knows what abortion pills do and how effective they are in ending unwanted pregnancies. One also has learned that RU 486 is not used as Emergency Contraception in the US, but is highly effective in preventing pregnancy and is used as the Morning After Pill in other countries such as China and Taiwan. The Abortion pill procedure can be performed from 3 to 21 weeks in experienced hands. In essence, early abortion, all first trimester, second trimester and late term abortions can be performed using the abortion pill method in a highly effective and safe manner with minimal side effects and complications.
Dr James S Pendergraft | Orlando Women’s Center