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Abortion pill: Questions about the abortion pill

Abortion pill in
Making the decision to have an abortion is extremely difficult and emotional for any woman, but if the situation arises, you'll want to be as prepared as possible and know what your options are.

Abortion pill: What you need to know about the abortion pill

Abortion pill in © iStockphoto In the UK it is currently legal for an abortion to be carried out up to 24 weeks.
The sooner the decision is made to end the pregnancy the more options you have and the safer it will be for the woman.
The abortion pill, also known as a medical abortion, can terminate pregnancies in the early stages of pregnancy.
The abortion pill sounds friendly enough, but it still carries with it various risks and complications, so, if you are considering this option then you'll want to know the answers to these frequently asked questions:

How soon can I take it?

The abortion pill is can be used up to 9 weeks into your pregnancy. The effect of the abortion pill mimics an early miscarriage.

Where can I get it?

To have the abortion pill you will need to go to an abortion clinic or your doctors surgery.
The NHS does not offer the abortion pill in every area in the UK, so you will need to talk to your GP and find out whether it is available. If it is not offered in your area, your doctor should be able to refer you to an area that does.
You can also take the abortion pill at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), check their website to find your nearest BPAS abortion clinic.

What is the abortion pill?

The abortion pill is actually two pills. You take two separate drugs, 48 hours apart. The first is called Mifepristone and the second, Prostaglandin.

How does the abortion pill work?

The first pill (Mifepristone) is taken orally. Mifepristone works by blocking the hormone progesterone, without which the lining of the uterus breaks down and cannot support the fertilised egg.
The second pill, (Prostaglandin) is inserted into the vagina 48 hours after you have taken the Mifepristone pill. The second pill causes your womb to contract and shed its lining so the fertilised egg detaches from your womb and is passed through the vagina.
This means that you can expect to have a heavy bleed and period like cramps. This usually starts two hours after taking the second pill and some girls can find it quite painful.

What are the side effects of the abortion pill?

After the first pill you should be able to go back to work or return home and carry on your day as normal.
Abortion pill: Questions about the abortion pill © iStockphoto The second pill prostaglandin, can cause pain and discomfort as the uterus lining breaks down. The following side effects are common, but you are able to take pain killers:
~ Nausea or vomiting
~ Cramping
~ Dizziness
~ Diarrhoea
~ Headache
You may find that you have spotting and light bleeding for up to 4 weeks after taking the abortion pills as your uterus readjusts.

How long does it take to end the pregnancy?

Once you have taken the second pill, most pregnancies are ended within 4 to 6 hours. The lining of the womb breaks down quickly and the embryo is passed through the vagina, acting like a 'natural' miscarriage.

How effective is the abortion pill?

The abortion pill has an excellent success rate and is a very reliable method to terminate a pregnancy. Out of 100 women who take the abortion pill, 97% have no problems terminating their pregnancy.
In the unlikely event that it doesn't work, you may need to have an aspiration abortion to end the pregnancy as the drugs can cause serious birth defects.

What happens after taking the abortion pills?

Once you have taken both pills and you have experienced the bleed, you should arrange a follow up appointment with the clinic or your doctor, to take place one or two weeks later.
In this appointment they can confirm whether you are still pregnant or not, and can assess your general health. You will also have the opportunity to talk about any symptoms or side effects you may have experienced following the termination.
If you are thinking of having an abortion, then meeting with your doctor as soon as possible is vital to give you the most options. Never feel pressured into having an abortion and remember to do what is right for you.

Where can I find out more?

Published by editorial staff Parenting
18 May 2011
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