Abortion with pills

How to safely self-manage an abortion using pills

Abortion with pills is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy. It allows a woman to manage as much of the abortion process as she wants on her own, with or without the involvement of a health provider. On this page is reliable, evidence-based information about how to safely self-manage an abortion using pills.

Abortion with pills uses a combination of the medications mifepristone and misoprostol, which work together to empty the uterus by starting a process similar to a miscarriage. When used in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, this method is up to 98.5% effective. And when mifepristone is not available, misoprostol is safe to use alone and still very effective. With accurate information, women will know what to expect when having an abortion with pills and when it may be necessary to seek medical attention.

Self-management of abortion with pills is on the rise globally due to increasing availability of abortion pills and because this method meets women’s need for abortion on their own terms. Quite literally, abortion with pills puts power in women’s hands—and gives them control over their own bodies and reproductive choices.

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Mina’s Story

To make this video, Ipas partnered with:
Animation and art direction: Marcita (@animarcita)
Production: Camila Kater (@camila.kater)
Illustration: Maria Eugênia (@mrgnf)
Animation: Marina Corbane (vimeo.com/marinacorbane)
Sound Design and Mastering: Olivia Fiusa
English narrator: Nomtha Zikalala
Spanish narrator: Maria Lexa
French narrator: Khady Sylla
Portuguese narrator: Lenna Bahule (@lennabahule)

How to have an abortion with pills

This guide helps women know if they can use abortion pills to end an unwanted pregnancy, how to use the pills, and how to know if they worked.

Swipe through for an overview!

I think I'm pregnant. Can I use abortion pills?

To see if abortion pills are right for you:

1. Find out how many weeks pregnant you are. You can use an online pregnancy calculator like the one on safe2choose.org.

2. Find the right guidance for you on page 2 of our full guide based on how many weeks pregnant you are. Generally, if you are less than 12 weeks pregnant, you can use abortion pills.

Conditions to consider

Be sure you don’t have an illness or condition that could make abortion with pills not the best choice for ending your pregnancy. See page 3 of our full guide for a list of conditions to consider.

How do I take abortion pills?

An abortion with pills uses a combination of the medications mifepristone and misoprostol. If mifepristone is not available, misoprostol can also be used alone.

Scroll down to the slides below for complete instructions based on what pills you have. Or see all instructions in our full guide.

What will happen when I take the pills?

The pills should cause bleeding and cramping, and you may see clots. Your bleeding may be more than your normal period. Every woman will experience bleeding and cramping differently.

You may have side effects. Vomiting, headache, fever/chills and diarrhea are all common side effects. Most go away in a few hours. If any side effects last longer than a day, go to your nearest health worker.

When should I seek help?

You should see a health worker for additional care if you have symptoms like heavy bleeding (soaking more than 2 sanitary pads per hour for 2 hours in a row), severe cramps or abdominal pain, or unusual vaginal discharge. See page 6 of our full guide for more details on when to seek help.

How do I know the pills worked?

If you experienced bleeding and cramping and you no longer feel pregnant, the medicine has probably worked. See page 6 of our full guide for details on how to know if your abortion is complete.

Sex and pregnancy after your abortion

You can have sex as soon as you like after an abortion with pills. You can become pregnant again as soon as 8 days after the abortion.

If you do not want to get pregnant, use contraception. Talk to a health worker. You can start most methods of contraception at the same time you take the abortion pills.

How do I take abortion pills?

An abortion with pills uses a combination of the medications mifepristone and misoprostol. If mifepristone is not available, misoprostol can also be used alone. Without mifepristone, you will need to take more misoprostol pills, the process tends to be longer and you may experience more side effects.

Here are complete instructions, based on what pills you have. For more details on how to have an abortion with pills, see our full guide.

If you are using mifepristone and misoprostol

1. Mifepristone

 Swallow 200mg of mifepristone with water.

2. Wait 1–2 days

3. Misoprostol

Place 4 misoprostol pills (200mcg each, so 800mcg total) either under your tongue or between your cheek and gums (2 pills on each side of your mouth) for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, swallow any remaining pieces of pills with water.

* If you are 10–12 weeks pregnant, you may need to take 1 or 2 extra doses of misoprostol to finish the process. To reduce pain and cramping, you can take ibuprofen before or just after taking the 4 misoprostol pills.

If you are using misoprostol alone

1. Take 4 misoprostol pills

Place 4 misoprostol pills (200mcg each, so 800mcg total) either under your tongue or between your cheek and gums (2 pills on each side of your mouth) for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, swallow any remaining pieces of pills with water.

2. Wait 3 hours, then repeat Step 1

3. Wait 3 more hours, then repeat Step 1 again

In total, you will take 12 pills from start to finish. To reduce pain and cramping, you can take ibuprofen before or just after taking the 4 misoprostol pills.
Abortion self-care: What do abortion pills look like?

How to buy abortion pills that are safe and effective

Abortion with pills is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy, but you must use the right medications. There are many counterfeit and poor-quality abortion pills available. Here are 10 common questions and answers to help you find the right pills.

More information

Reliable, evidence-based information on how to safely self-manage an abortion with pills can be found on the websites of these organizations:

safe2choose logo
Women Help Women logo

There are also these reliable mobile apps available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store:

Euki APP logo

Euki — Sexual health info & tracking.

You can download it in the Apple app store and Google Play store.

Safe Abortion (SA) — Hesperian Health Guides APP logo

Safe Abortion (SA) — Hesperian Health Guides.

You can download it in the Apple app store and Google Play store.

Medication Abortion Self-Care: A guide for community accompaniment to support women

Medication abortion self-care: A guide for community accompaniment to support women resource image

Are you an individual or organization interested in learning more about how to provide accompaniment to women seeking abortion with pills? This guide is for you!

Accompaniment” refers to any support offered a woman during her experience of considering, seeking and self-managing an abortion with pills.

Learn more about Ipas’s commitment to supporting a woman’s right to have an abortion using pills—on her own, when and where she wants.

Pills-In-Hand
Canadian government logo

Ipas gratefully acknowledges the support of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development in the production of this publication.