Take an informed decision- the facts of abortion pill
Abortion pill or medical abortion is induced by the ingestion of a combination of two medicines, mifepristone (RU 486) and misoprostol. Medical abortion can be resorted to by women who are less than 9 weeks pregnant as it is safe and effective within this time period. The pregnancy should first be confirmed and then medical advice sought.
Once the pregnancy is confirmed, an ultrasound is done to determine that the pregnancy is less than 9 weeks. The abortion pill is then prescribed provided the woman meets all the other necessary medical criteria. The working of the abortion pill is as follows:
Mifepristone which is given first obstructs the hormone progesterone which is necessary for maintaining the pregnancy. The uterine lining begins to shed and the cervix softens because of the blockage of the progesterone and some bleeding may occur. The second medication, misoprostol is given 24-72 hours later which causes the uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy tissue within 6-8 hours. The drugs, mifepristone and misoprostal are FDA approved.
Bleeding varies from woman to woman after the first dosage. Some have light bleeding while others have heavy bleeding. A few do not have any bleeding at all until the ingestion of the second drug, misoprostol. Misoprostol causes cramping, bleeding and clotting sometimes within 20 minutes of taking the drug and most woman abort naturally within 6-8 hours. Cramping may take place in waves with fluctuating intensity and heavier bleeding than the menstrual period should be expected. This is followed up with an after-care check up to ensure that the abortion is complete. If it is not, an aspiration abortion (suction method) will have to be done.
Although medical abortion is safe, it is not without side-effects and has its own share of risks. Side-effects may include nausea, vomiting, heavy bleeding and cramping, headache and diarrhea. Risks include very heavy bleeding and in rare cases, incomplete abortions (some pregnancy tissue is left behind) whereby aspiration abortion has to be done to complete the process. Blood transfusions may become necessary in a few cases. A high risk of fetal deformities cannot be ruled out if pregnancy continues after taking these medications.
Women have to meet certain criteria to undergo medical abortion:
The pregnancy has to be less than 9 weeks old and the woman has to give willing consent and have access to reliable transportation and telephone communication to the clinic. The hospital should not be more than 2 hours away from where she lives and she should be able to come for 1-3 follow-ups. Her consent for a surgical abortion is also required in case of incomplete abortion. A woman may not be fit for medical abortion if she has a clotting problem, anemia, heart problem, diabetes, adrenal failure, severe diarrhea, mass in ovaries or tubes, inherited porphyria or allergy to any prostaglandin medicines. If ectopic pregnancy is suspected, medical abortion may not be advised.
Abortion pill has been found to be 95-97% successful in terminating pregnancy.