Risks of Abortion Pill

Understanding Potential Side Effects & Risks of the Abortion Pill

Medical abortion, also known as a chemical abortion, medication abortion, or the abortion pill, is a method of ending a pregnancy using two medications: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, the hormone needed to support a pregnancy. Misoprostol causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus. Misoprostol can be used alone for this purpose, but this approach is less common and may require additional doses. Abortion can lead to life-threatening complications, so it is important to see a doctor to learn about any and all risks before taking the abortion pill. 


Important: If you have taken the first abortion pill medication and are having second thoughts, abortion pill reversal may be an option for you! Don’t hesitate to reach out to a nurse now by calling the EPS Helpline at 402-554-1000.

What Are the Expected Side Effects of Taking the Abortion Pill?

• Cramping and bleeding: Cramping will feel like strong period cramps, and bleeding is usually heavier than a typical period and may include clots and tissue.
• Nausea, vomiting, and other physical effects: Some potential side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, headache, and stomach or back pain, typically cease after your body adjusts to the medication, so reach out to your doctor with any questions or concerns about prolonged physical side effects.

Check with your doctor immediately if excessively heavy vaginal bleeding, chest discomfort, continuing fever of 100.4 or higher, or other indicators of infection occur.

Physical Risks of Medical Abortion:

Although taking medication may seem like a simple and straightforward solution for terminating a pregnancy, it’s important to consider the risks of the abortion pill. Globally, 19-20 million face unsafe abortion annually, so it is important to consult with a doctor before taking any abortion medications. Some of the risks include the following:

• Incomplete abortion: While uncommon, the pregnancy might not fully terminate with a chemical abortion. If you are still pregnant, there is an increased risk of hemorrhage and infection that may require a surgical procedure. Making a follow-up appointment with your doctor one to two weeks after an abortion will help you confirm the status of your abortion and health.
• Heavy bleeding requiring surgery: Although bleeding is expected, seek medical attention if you soak through two full-size pads every hour for two consecutive hours or are concerned about the amount of bleeding. In rare cases, a surgical procedure might be needed to stop excessive bleeding.
• Severe or persistent abdominal pain: Abdominal pain can be a sign of infection or, in rare cases, an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). Ectopic pregnancies cannot be treated with medication and require immediate medical attention.

Emotional Risks of Taking the Abortion Pill:

When considering abortion, it’s important to consider not only the physical risks but also the emotional risks of terminating your pregnancy. Abortion has been associated with elevated rates of mental illness compared to women without a history of abortion.

In a study published by Cambridge University Press, researchers found that women who had experienced an abortion, compared with women who had not had an abortion, had an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and “nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion.”

Abortion is a big decision and can be a stressful and emotional life event. If you are experiencing grief, guilt, anger, shame, remorse or other emotions that you would like help processing after an abortion, it’s important to connect with a licensed professional. EPS has a licensed counselor to support you, a social worker to assist you, and nurses who are available 24/7 by phone or text to answer your questions and talk to you about your options before or after you take the abortion pill.


When you’re considering your pregnancy options, help is available. Get the facts you need to make an informed pregnancy decision. At EPS we offer no-cost, judgment-free support. Make an appointment today.