What is the abortion pill?
Abortion pill is known within medical circles as Medication Abortion.
It is a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy.
The pill is not one that is sold over the counter.
To take it, you will have to walk into a health facility and request for comprehensive abortion care.
You will be directed to a health professional who is trained to administer the pill.
He or she would then prescribe it for you before you go and purchase it.
In Ghana, one can opt for abortion services under certain circumstances including incest, rape, and mental health reasons.
How does it work?
Abortion pill is the popular name for using two different medicines to end a pregnancy:
There are different pills that are used for this purpose.
A medical practitioner (Doctor or Nurse) trained to administer it is in the best position to tell which pill is best for you.
Your doctor or nurse will give you the pill at the clinic or prescribe it for you to go and purchase.
In Ghana, one can opt for the service of abortion under certain circumstances including incest, rape, and mental health reasons.
Pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to grow normally.
What the pill does is that it blocks your body’s own progesterone.
You’ll also be given some further care, so you don’t have complications.
When you visit a health facility, details of how the pill works and will be explained to you.
How effective is it?
The abortion pill is very effective. For people who are 8 weeks pregnant or less, it works about 98 out of 100 times.
From 8-9 weeks pregnant, it works about 96 out of 100 times.
From 9-10 weeks, it works 93 out of 100 times.
The abortion pill usually works when administered properly and under the right conditions by a professional.
When can I take the abortion pill?
You usually can get a medication abortion up to 70 days (10 weeks) after the first day of your last period.
If it has been 71 days or more since the first day of your last period, talk to a trained health personnel on what you should do.
You would be provided with counseling on the best option.
Why do people choose the abortion pill?
Which kind of abortion you choose all depends on your personal preference and situation, after you have been to the doctor or nurse.
With medication abortion, some people like that you don’t need to have a procedure in a doctor’s office.
Professional counsel is however strongly advised.
Some prefer to have medication abortion at home or in a friend’s home.
It is however best to see a doctor in a facility first.
You get to decide who you want to be with during your time with the doctor.
Because medication abortion is similar to a miscarriage, many people feel like it’s more “natural” and less invasive.
Your doctor, nurse, or health center staff can help you decide which kind of abortion is best for you.
What can I expect if I take the pill?
You will be given the pill by your doctor or nurse.
Depending on the situation after counseling, you may have it at home, under some sort of supervision.
There are friendly facilities too that can house you if you need such assistance during the period.
The abortion pill causes cramping and bleeding that can last several hours or more.
Plan on taking it easy for the day.
What do I need to do before I take the pill?
Before you take the abortion pill, you’ll meet with your nurse, doctor, or health center staff.
They will talk to you about which pill or method is best for you.
And what your abortion options are.
You’ll be taken through all the laboratory examinations and tests, and may get an ultrasound to figure out how far into your pregnancy you are.
Your nurse or doctor will let you know if there’s anything else you need to prepare for your medication abortion.
You’ll be given you on how to take your pills.
You will have access to a caring professional through the process — you’ll possibly get a number you can call 24/7 if you have any questions or concerns.
Because of the bleeding and cramps that often happens after you take the medicine, it is advisable to stick to the advice given.
Plan ahead to make the process more comfortable.
Choose a time when you’ll have some privacy and can rest for a while, and have someone you trust with you (or nearby) that you can call for support if you need anything.
Prepare! Stock up some maxi pads, food, books or movies to help pass the time, and a heating pad for cramps.
Make sure you have all you need from your doctor — but don’t do self medication.
What happens during a medication abortion?
The abortion pill process has several steps. It starts when you take the first pill.
When you are given the pill, this is what happens.
Pregnancy needs a hormone called progesterone to grow normally.
The pill blocks your body’s own progesterone.
Some people feel nauseous or start bleeding after taking it.
But it’s not common.
Your doctor or nurse will give you other medicines to prevent infection.
For most people, the cramping and bleeding usually starts 1-4 hours after taking the pill.
It’s normal to see large blood clots (up to the size of a lemon) or clumps of tissue when the abortion is happening.
It’s kind of like having a really heavy, crampy period, and the process is very similar to an early miscarriage.
The cramping and bleeding can last for several hours.
Most people finish passing the pregnancy tissue in 4-5 hours, but it may take longer.
The cramping and bleeding slows down after the pregnancy tissue comes out.
You may have cramping on and off for 1 or 2 more days.
You will be given other medicines to help ease pain.
You may also be given anti-nausea medicine if your doctor or nurse finds it necessary.
Don’t take any other medicine on your own, because some medicines can make you bleed more.
It’s normal to have some bleeding and spotting for several weeks after your abortion.
Use pads for at least the first week so you can better tell how much you’re bleeding.
After then you can use tampons if your bleeding isn’t heavy.
The last step is a follow up visit for review as will be told you.
For the follow up, you’ll get an ultrasound or blood test.
This will make sure your abortion is complete and you are well.
In the unlikely event that you are still pregnant, your doctor or nurse will discuss your options with you.
In the unlikely case that it doesn’t work, you may need further medical attention.
How does a medication abortion feel?
For most people, medication abortion feels like having an early miscarriage. You might have:
- Lots of cramping and aches in your belly
- Very heavy bleeding with large clots
- An upset stomach and vomiting. (Your doctor or nurse may give you medicine to help with nausea.)
- Mild fever (If you feel excessively warm to touch, consult your doctor immediately)
What can I expect after I take the pill?
You may feel tired or crampy for a day or so, and you’ll have bleeding and spotting for awhile. Most people go back to normal activities the day after a medication abortion.
How will I feel after taking the it?
How you feel during and after a medication abortion varies from person to person.
On the day you take your second medicine, plan on resting and being in a comfortable place.
You may feel tired for 1 or 2 days after, but you should be back to normal soon.
You can go back to work, school, driving, and most other normal activities the next day if you feel up to it.
But DON’T do hard work or heavy exercise for several days. You should start to feel better as the days go by, but call your doctor or health center if you still feel ill.
After your abortion is complete, cramping and bleeding should lighten up as the hours and days go by.
You may also have tender breasts, and they may leak a milky discharge.
That should stop in a couple of days. Wearing a snug-fitting bra will help you feel more comfortable.
Any chills, fevers, or nausea you have should go away pretty quickly.
Call your doctor or health center right away if you have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever for more than 24 hours after taking the administered medicine (in most cases, the second set of pills). It could be a sign of an infection.
Your doctor or health care center staff will give you written after-care instructions, and a phone number you can call with any questions about abortion pill, side effects or any other concerns.
Follow all of your doctor’s directions during and after your abortion.
Make sure you go to for your follow-up so your doctor or nurse can make sure that your abortion is complete and that you’re healthy.
People can have a range of emotions after having an abortion.
Most people feel relief, but sometimes people feel sad or regretful.
This is totally normal.
If your mood keeps you from doing the things you usually do each day, call your doctor or nurse for help.
You could be referred to a counselor.
How will the abortion pill affect my periods?
It’s normal to bleed and spot off and on for several weeks after your abortion.
Use pads so you can track how much you’re bleeding, until the heavy bleeding lets up.
Then you can use tampons or menstrual cups if you want to.
Abortion starts a new menstrual cycle, so your period should go back to normal 4-8 weeks after your abortion.
How soon can I have sex after a medication abortion?
You can have sex as soon as you feel ready.
When can I start using birth control after my medication abortion?
You can start a new birth control method immediately after having a medication abortion.
You can get pregnant very quickly after your abortion, so it’s a good idea to talk with your nurse or doctor about birth control as soon as you can — they can help you find a method that’s right for you.
How safe is the abortion pill?
Medication abortion is very safe. Serious problems are rare, but like all medical procedures, there can be some risks.
What are the possible risks of taking the abortion pill?
Medication abortion has been used safely in many countries for more than 15 years.
Serious complications are really rare, but can happen.
- The abortion pills don’t work and the pregnancy doesn’t end
- Some of the pregnancy tissue is left in your uterus
- Blood clots in your uterus
- Bleeding too much or too long
- Allergic reaction to one of the medicines
These problems aren’t common.
And if they do happen, they’re usually easy to take care of with medication or other treatments.
In extremely rare cases, some complications can be very serious or even life threatening.
Call your doctor or health center right away if you have:
- Heavy bleeding from your vagina that soaks through more than 2 maxi pads in an hour, for 2 or more hours in a row
- Passing large clots (bigger than a lemon) for more than 2 hours
- Belly pain or cramps that don’t get better with pain medication
- A fever
- Weakness, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours after taking the prescribed medication.
You should start to feel better the day after your abortion.
Feeling sick with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, or a fever for more than 24 hours after taking medication abortion can be a sign of infection.
Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of those symptoms.
Serious problems can cause death in the most rare cases, but medication abortion is typically very safe.
If you have complications during your medication abortion, you may have to go back to the doctor’s office or health center.
Like all medications, the abortion pill isn’t right for everyone. The abortion pill may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or take certain medications.
Your doctor or nurse will talk with you and help you decide if the abortion pill is the right option for you.
Does the abortion pill have long-term side effects?
The abortion pill is really safe and effective.
It’s a super common way to have an abortion, and millions of people have used it safely.
Unless there’s a rare and serious complication that’s not treated, there’s no risk to your future pregnancies or to your overall health.
Abortion Pill | Note these
Having an abortion doesn’t increase your risk for breast cancer or affect your fertility.
It doesn’t cause problems for future pregnancies like birth defects, premature birth or low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or infant death.
Serious, long-term emotional problems after an abortion are rare, and about as uncommon as they are after giving birth.
They are more likely to happen in people who have to end a pregnancy because of health reasons, people who do not have support around their decision to have an abortion, or people who have a history of mental health problems.
Most people feel relief after an abortion.
There are many myths out there about the effects of abortion.
Your nurse or doctor can give you accurate information about abortion pill side effects or any other concerns you may have.
How and where do I get the abortion pill?
In Ghana, you can get the abortion pill from a doctor, nurse, health clinic.
You could as well talk to a Planned Parenthood health center or Marie Stopes.
It is risky to walk into a pharmacy on your own to purchase an abortion pill to take.