Q: What should a person expect after using abortion pills?

Usually, people do not feel anything after taking the mifepristone (the first pill, which is swallowed). A few people have reported experiencing some nausea, dizziness, or very light bleeding.

After taking misoprostol (the pills that are allowed to dissolve in the mouth), a person may initially feel side effects such as a light fever, chills, diarrhea, and/or nausea. These are normal side effects and usually pass within a few hours after using the misoprostol.

The misoprostol will cause cramping and bleeding as the uterus contracts and pushes out the pregnancy. If a person uses mifepristone plus misoprostol, the cramps and bleeding usually start 1 to 5 hours after using the misoprostol, but some people have cramps sooner and some later.  If a person is using misoprostol alone, most people will start bleeding within 7 hours, but it may start several hours sooner or later. Everyone’s body is different.

Bleeding is usually heavier than a period and often accompanied by clots. The heaviest bleeding typically occurs 2 to 5 hours after using misoprostol and usually slows within 24 hours, but some people may pass clots days or even weeks later. This is common and is not dangerous as long as there are no symptoms of a complication.

Ibuprofen is the most effective painkiller for cramps, but other NSAIDs like Naproxen and Diclofenac are also effective. It’s important to follow the instructions on the package of painkillers to avoid using more than the maximum recommended dose. Some people also find that a hot water bottle on the belly brings relief.

During and after the abortion, a person should use sanitary pads, NOT tampons. This is to prevent infection and also to make it easier to keep track of the amount of bleeding to make sure it is within safe levels.