A medical or medication abortion is the end of a pregnancy brought about by taking certain pharmaceutical drugs. This is a non-surgical method of inducing abortion in which a woman is required to take certain drugs which can be taken orally, vaginally or which can be injected intramuscularly.
There are certain things that women need to know about medication abortion and its possible consequences before they opt for it:
It is different from the morning after pill
Whereas the morning after pill is meant to prevent a pregnancy, any kind of abortion is meant to end a pregnancy that has already occurred.
A morning after pill is required to be taken as soon after unprotected sexual intercourse as possible, to lower the chances of the female egg being fertilized by a sperm; so that a pregnancy is prevented.
An abortion pill is taken after a woman finds that she is pregnant but is not desirous of carrying her pregnancy to term. A medication abortion pill can be taken up to 49 days (7 weeks) gestation in some formulations and up to 59 days gestation in certain other formulations.
How it works
Certain drugs or drug combinations, such as a mifepristone/misoprostol combintaion, a methotrexate/misoprostol combination, and misoprostol alone are used, depending upon the advancement of the pregnancy or the individual circumstances.
What the abortion medicines do, is to thin the lining of the uterus, so that the pregnancy is detached from the walls of the uterus. It causes the cervix to thin and dilate, and the uterus starts to contract and the contents of the uterus are expelled.
The possible advantages of medication abortion
This is a non surgical method of abortion and is not invasive in that sense. There is no need for administering an anesthetic for this procedure. This form of abortion is considered ‘private’ which could be a significant advantage for certain women. It is considered to be safe and effective; with rates of success being as high as 95 to 98%.
For some women, who may be severely obese or who may have certain conditions that make surgery inadvisable, a medical abortion may be indicated. It is considered safe for women who have undergone cervical surgery previously, or who have fibroids or uterus malformations and may not be able to undergo surgical abortion. Certain medication combinations can also treat an ectopic pregnancy, which is a potentially life threatening situation.
Disadvantages of medication abortion
There is a need to visit the clinic and it could take days or even weeks for the complete abortion to take place. It is not effective later in pregnancy. The bleeding after taking the medication may last for several weeks. In some cases where the abortion is not complete, there may be the need for a surgical intervention by aspiration or D&C to make sure that the contents of the uterus are fully expelled.
A woman also needs to know that with a medication abortion she will be able to see the blood clots and any fetal products as they are expelled from the vagina and this may be something that she may find difficult to deal with.