Pill Abortion: Care Instructions

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A pill abortion is the use of medicines to end a pregnancy. Usually two medicines are used. You take one medicine. Within 2 days after taking the first medicine, you take the second medicine. The timing depends on how the doctor tells you to use them. The second medicine takes about 1 to 24 hours to work.

After the abortion, you may have bleeding, spotting, and cramping for the first 2 weeks.

You will take a pregnancy test at home or have an ultrasound or a lab test to make sure the abortion worked. You will be told when to do this. If the medicine didn't work, you may need to take a second dose of medicine or have an in-clinic abortion.

If you got and used abortion pills without working with a doctor (self-managed abortion), you should take a pregnancy test about a month after the abortion to make sure it worked.

You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk with your doctor about birth control methods.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed medicine to prevent nausea, take it as directed.
  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. Using pads makes it easier to monitor your bleeding.
  • Do not rinse your vagina with fluid (douche). It could increase your risk of infections that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Ask your doctor when you can return to normal activities or strenuous exercise. Most people can return to normal activities after 1 to 2 days.
  • Ask your doctor when it's okay to have vaginal sex. You can get pregnant in the weeks after an abortion. If you don't want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about birth control options.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe vaginal bleeding along with lightheadedness or nausea.
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.
  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.
  • You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks through a pad in an hour, or you have large clots.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Swelling in the leg or groin.
    • A color change on the leg or groin. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your usual skin color.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain.
    • A fever.
  • You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
  • You still feel pregnant or have pregnancy symptoms.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter W727 in the search box to learn more about "Pill Abortion: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.