There’s much to think about when considering the abortion pill, otherwise known as an at-home abortion. There are questions to ask yourself, including:
Is this for me? Can I self-manage my own abortion? What about afterwards? What would that look like for me?
We’re here for you, before or after taking the abortion pill.
We have a free and confidential listening service open to everyone, where you can talk through your options with our counsellors and skilled listeners.
We won’t judge you or push you towards a certain decision. Instead, we’ll provide a safe place for you to explore your situation, work through your feelings, and make the choices that are best for you.
Last year, we helped 45,000 people who were facing pregnancy or pregnancy loss. One of our clients gave us permission to share this:
“I was so scared to tell anyone about what was happening. I contacted the Life Helpline, and told them everything, little by little. I never once felt judged by the Helpliner. They just accepted me and where I was at.”
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What is the abortion pill? *
The abortion pill is actually comprised of two pills, each of which does something different.
- The first pill blocks the main pregnancy hormone.
- The second pill is taken one or two days later, causing the lining of the womb to break down. As a result, the woman experiences pain, bleeding, and the loss of the pregnancy.
You might also find abortion pills called:
- An “early medical abortion”.
- A “DIY abortion” or “self-managed abortion”. This is because it is you who manages the whole process from start to finish.
- “Telemedicine abortion” or “telehealth abortion”. Telemedicine started as a way to treat patients who were living in remote places, with no medical facilities around them. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion providers have posted more pills to enable people to end their pregnancies at home.
How does the abortion pill work?
When the first pill is taken, the main pregnancy hormone is blocked. If you change your mind and want to continue the pregnancy, there’s still a chance the pregnancy will miscarry.
The abortion itself will start within a few hours of taking the second pill, usually lasting between one and two days. Occasionally, it can take up to two weeks to pass all pregnancy tissue.
At this point the person taking the pill is likely to experience pain and strong cramping, passing the pregnancy along with heavy bleeding. Most people will pass blood clots, which can range in size from small (the size of a pound coin) to quite large (the size of a lemon).
The advice is to use ibuprofen, paracetamol, or codeine to help manage the pain.
After the pregnancy has been passed, both pain and bleeding will usually reduce, although bleeding tends to continue for a few days after the home abortion as the womb contracts to a normal size. It’s normal to have some bleeding or spotting for two to four weeks; for some people, it can be as long as eight weeks.
If you feel you want to talk to us, tap the buttons at the top of the page to text, call, or message.
*Sources for this section and the above are as follows:
Side effects of the abortion pills
Abortion pills do have side effects, ranging from the very common to the very rare. You can scroll down to see them or find them at our source, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Side effects include:
The common or very common:
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Uterine disorders
- Skin reactions
The rare or very rare:
- Erythema nodosum
- Hot flush
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Uterine rupture
There are also some side-effects where the frequency is not known:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Toxic shock syndrome
Life, here for all pregnancies and pregnancy loss
At Life, our mission is to help people meet pregnancy or pregnancy loss with courage and dignity, including pregnancy loss by abortion.
Every month, we give emotional and practical help to over 500 people through our free counselling and listening service. You can tap the buttons at the top to get in touch.
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