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Abortion at Home: 5 things you should know

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By the safe2choose team

Abortion at home — also known as medication abortion, medical abortion, or self-managed abortion — is getting more and more popular among women who desire to end their pregnancy. The procedure is non-invasive, doesn’t require surgery, and can be carried out wherever they feel comfortable and safe.  

To throw some light on this safe and effective procedure, here are 5 things you should know about an abortion at home.

1. What is an abortion at home and who can get it?

An abortion at home or medication abortion is usually a combination of two medications that work together to terminate a pregnancy. The two medicines used are Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Mifepristone works by blocking the flow of progesterone — a hormone necessary to support the pregnancy. Misoprostol works by causing cramping that empties the uterus with bleeding. A medical abortion can also be performed using only Misoprostol, but it is more effective to use both medications together. Indeed, the combination of Mifepristone and Misoprostol is effective in about 95 out of 100 cases and in 85 out of 100 cases for Misoprostol only.

Medication abortion is a common and safe procedure to terminate first-trimester pregnancies. Safe medication abortions can be performed up to 11 weeks, or about two months after the first day of your last period. According to Planned Parenthood, the abortion pills are 98 percent effective if you’re up to eight weeks pregnant, 96 percent effective if you’re between eight and nine weeks pregnant, and 93 percent effective if you’re between nine and 10 weeks pregnant. After 11 weeks, a surgical abortion is necessary.  

2. How to get the abortion pills?

Regulations surrounding medication abortion change from one country to another. Abortion pills are available in most countries in Europe, North America, and Oceania. In continents such as Africa, Latin America, and Asia, it might be more restricted. Mifepristone might not be available but Misoprostol is easier to find. Indeed, while Mifepristone is only used for abortion, Misoprostol has other medical uses aside from abortion (induce labor, postpartum hemorrhage, stomach ulcer, etc). If necessary, safe2choose may refer you to reliable on-the-ground organizations that can help you access abortion pills or find local information about it. You can contact us at info@safe2choose.org. 

3. What to expect and what are the side effects?

During the process, the side effects and their intensity can vary. After taking the first pill, Mifepristone, most people don’t experience any side effects, but it’s not unusual to feel nauseous or start bleeding. After taking the second pill, usually a set of 4 Misoprostol, bleeding and cramping similar to normal period cramps can be felt. You may also feel nauseous and experience intense cramping and heavy bleeding.

Large clumps of tissue or blood clots can be expelled after taking the Misoprostol (up to the size of a lemon, according to Planned Parenthood), especially between 9 and 11 weeks of the pregnancy. The bleeding should start to reduce after a few hours but can take longer. Cramping will continue for a day or two and decrease in intensity with time. Ibuprofen can be really useful and aspirin should be avoided as it can cause more bleeding. Most people compare medication abortion to the feeling of an early miscarriage.

Other side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, and a mild fever up to about 100 degrees. In case of a fever higher than that, a doctor should immediately be called. The risk of infection with an abortion at home is very low but women should pay attention to warning signs. 

4. Is abortion at home safe?

An abortion at home is really safe and effective if done correctly. Millions of people have used the pills safely. Less than 1 percent of people who have medication abortions experience serious side effects or incomplete abortions. If this is the case, women can check with a doctor or a counselor to decide if they will need to take more medication, try again at home, or have a surgical abortion if their country allows it. 

5. How will I feel after having an abortion?

Resting is important after an abortion at home. You can usually go back to work, school, or most other normal activities the next day. Avoid heavy work or exercise. You can have sex as soon as you feel ready. Just listen to your body and your desire. It is also recommended to use condoms or other forms of prevention methods as you can become pregnant again as early as 8 days after using the abortion pills.

Most people feel fine within a day or two, but bleeding can last for a week or more after the abortion. Cramping can happen for a few days.

After the abortion, it’s totally normal to experience a lot of different emotions. Everyone has a different experience. Most people are relieved and don’t regret their decision. Others may feel sadness, guilt, or regret as they also have to deal with a lot of stigma from the society. Lots of people have all these feelings at different times. 

We are here to support you with your abortion at home

Most people feel better if they have someone supportive to talk to after an abortion at home. But even if you don’t think there’s anybody in your life you can talk with, you’re not alone. You can contact our team of female counselors always ready to listen to you at: info@safe2choose.org

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MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE, WRITER, SEX AND RELATIONSHIP EXPERT

Ami Shikah is a sex educator and mental health advocate. She is passionate about sex education and is working towards making her website/blog a place where people come to for knowledge and information that will help them make healthy decisions about sex and sexuality. Mental health isn't treated with much importance in her part of the world (Ghana, Africa) and as someone who has had to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts, she hopes to share her experiences with the world and help other people like her. She has in-depth knowledge about sex, sexual health, sexuality, vaginal health, pregnancy and abortion and is working to share it all with the world. She has also made it possible for people to ask questions and get answers to them anytime.

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