A medical abortion (also known as abortion with pills) involves taking two types of medication to end a pregnancy: mifepristone and misoprostol.
In this blog, we provide information on:
- How to take mifepristone
- How to take misoprostol (by mouth or vaginally)
- Whether you can take misoprostol at night or in the morning
- Medical abortion aftercare
How to take mifepristone
The first medication that is taken as part of a medical abortion is called mifepristone. This blocks the hormone needed for the pregnancy to grow.
The mifepristone tablet can be removed from the blister pack and swallowed with plenty of water. Most people are able to continue their daily routine as normal after taking mifepristone, but you may occasionally experience some bleeding and pain.
If you vomit within 20 minutes of swallowing the mifepristone tablet, please ring our dedicated, 24-hour aftercare line to talk to a nurse: 0345 122 1441.
How to take misoprostol
The second medication that is taken as part of medical abortion care is called misoprostol. This causes the body to expel the pregnancy from the womb.
You can take misoprostol between 24 and 48 hours after taking the first medication (mifepristone).
We recommend taking your chosen method of painkillers 10 minutes before you plan to take the misoprostol, and then follow the next steps:
- Remove the 4 tablets of misoprostol from the blister pack.
- 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 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.
- 3 hours after taking these 4 tablets of misoprostol, take the remaining 2 tablets of misoprostol unless you are sure you have already passed the pregnancy.
How to take misoprostol vaginally:
- Empty your bladder.
- Wash your hands.
- Using your finger, push the misoprostol tablets up into the vagina one at a time. Insert them as far as you can.
- If tablets fall out in the first 30 minutes, re-insert them.
How to take misoprostol by mouth:
- Put 2 misoprostol tablets on each side of your mouth between your cheek and gums.
- Keep them in your mouth for 30 minutes for them to dissolve.
- After 30 minutes, you can swallow any undissolved tablets with water. The tablets may leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
For detailed instructions on how to take misoprostol by mouth or vaginally, including diagrams, read our medical abortion treatment and aftercare booklet.
Can I take misoprostol at night or in the morning?
As long as you take the misoprostol tablets as directed by the nurse or midwife during your appointment, it is up to you at what time of the day you take misoprostol. You can take the tablets at any time of the day – at night, or in the morning – but you may start to experience bleeding and cramping pains within a few hours of taking the misoprostol, so you may want to consider this when choosing the right time for you.
The abortion is usually completed within 1-2 days, but occasionally, it can take up to 2 weeks to fully pass all the pregnancy tissue, and you may continue to bleed for up to 8 weeks.
Most people will experience significant cramping pain and will find pain relief helpful. Pain relief should be taken before you take the misoprostol, or if preferred when you start to feel cramps building up. You can find detailed guidance on pain relief at our medical abortion aftercare page, and in our medical abortion treatment and aftercare booklet.
We are here to support you should you have any questions when taking medical abortion pills. To talk to a nurse, you can call our dedicated aftercare line on 0345 122 1441 – this is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How to get in touch with us
We are here to support you should you have any questions when taking abortion pills. 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.