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How to take abortion pills and what to expect

Abortion  •  4 April 2023  • 6 min read



If you are accessing our “At home abortion” service (telemedicine) or attending one of our clinics for a face-to-face appointment, you may want to know how to take the pills prior to your treatment. This is your step-by-step guide on how to take abortion pills.

In this blog, you will find information about:

  • Medical abortion or “abortion with pills” at home
  • A step-by-step guide on how to take abortion pills

What is a medical abortion or “abortion pills”?

medical abortion, also known as “Abortion with pills”, uses medication to end a pregnancy. The treatment involves taking two types of medicine at two different times.

  • The first medication that is taken, called mifepristone, blocks the hormone needed for pregnancy to grow.
  • A second medication is called misoprostol, which causes the body to expel the pregnancy from the womb.

It is the safest treatment option up to 9 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy for most people. We also offer at-home abortion services (telemedicine) up to 9 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. This means that if you meet safety criteria to allow for a medical abortion without a scan, you can take both sets of pills at home, without needing to attend a clinic. The abortion medication can either be collected by you from one of our clinics or posted to your home address after your consultation.

How to take abortion pills – 4 steps to your medical abortion

Once you have received your medical abortion package (either via post or collected from one of our clinics), there are 4 steps in your medical abortion process.

The steps are detailed in our “Medical Abortion Treatment and Aftercare” booklet.

  • Step 1: Taking the first tablet (mifepristone) – Once you receive the package, take your first tablet (mifepristone). Remove only the mifepristone from the blister pack (or from your plastic bag labelled “1” if you receive the package by post) and swallow it with plenty of water. Most people can continue their daily routine as normal after taking mifepristone. Occasionally you may experience some bleeding and pain. If you vomit within 30 minutes of swallowing the tablet, call our 24-hour aftercare line on 03451221441.
  • Step 2: Taking the second set of tablets (4 misoprostol tablets) – 24-48 hours after completing step 1 – 24-48 hours after completing step 1, remove the 4 tablets of misoprostol from the blister pack (or from your plastic bag labelled “2” if you receive the package by post).

Place all 4 tablets either vaginally (which we recommend as there are fewer side-effects), or if you prefer in your mouth between your gum and cheek. The tablets work best if you leave 24-48 hours between the first and second steps, but you can take them up to 72 hours after (please note that if more than 72 hours pass and you have not taken the misoprostol tablets you may need to come back to the clinic to repeat the treatment).

You can take your chosen method of pain killers 10 minutes before you plan to take the misoprostol.

The tablets might come out of the vagina when you start to bleed. If the tablets come out at this point, don’t worry as the medication will have been absorbed within 30 minutes.

For more detailed instructions and useful images of how to insert the tablet vaginally or in your mouth, between your gum and cheek, read our “Medical Abortion Treatment and Aftercare” booklet

  • Step 3: Taking the 2 extra tablets (misoprostol) – 3 hours after completing step 2 –

If you are sure that you have already passed the pregnancy after completing step 2, you do not need to follow step 3.

If you are not sure (which will be most people), please take the remaining 2 tablets of misoprostol 3 hours after completing step 2. You will need to place these 2 misoprostol tablets in the vagina or between your cheek and gums.

If you have very little or no bleeding by 48 hours after taking the second pills (misoprostol), it is possible the medical abortion has not worked so please call our 24-hour aftercare line on 0345 122 1441.

Most people will have significant cramping pain and will find pain relief helpful. After your medical abortion, you will find all the information you need about your recovery on our aftercare page.

  • Step 4: Pregnancy test – 3 weeks after step 3 – It is important that you take the pregnancy test included in the medical abortion pack 3 weeks after you have completed Step 3. Please use the pregnancy test we have provided as it is different to the shop bought tests. The pregnancy hormone can be present for up to two months after an abortion. This means that a shop bought pregnancy test may remain positive for up to two months, even though you are no longer pregnant, which is why you need to use the special one we provide.

If your pregnancy test is positive, call our aftercare line on 03451221441 to speak to a healthcare professional. Our team can help you to book an appointment for an assessment, and further treatment if needed.

How to access At-Home Abortion Pills (telemedicine service)

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government approved the temporary use of telemedicine for abortion care meaning that clients could take both sets of abortion pills at home, without attending a clinic.

In 2022, access to at-home early medical abortion care or at home abortion pills was made permanent by the UK government. This means that eligible clients can take both sets of abortion pills in their own homes, without attending a clinic. The abortion pills can either be collected by you from a centre or posted to your home address after your consultation.

If you’d like to access at-home abortion services with MSI, you can call us on 03453008090 or book online.

When contacting an abortion provider, we will provide a safe, non-judgemental space where you can ask your questions and make a booking.

Please remember that you can change your mind at any time whether you have made a booking or had your consultation. Abortion providers will support you whether your decision is to continue or end a pregnancy.

Get in touch

At MSI Reproductive Choices, we are here for you and there are a number of ways you can contact us.    

You can always get in touch should you have any questions about our services, would like to book an appointment or you have had treatment with us and want aftercare support.  



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