By: Claire

Misoprostol and mifepristone are the two medications that can be used for abortion. These pills can either be used in combination together, or misoprostol can be used alone.

This week, HowToUse is launching a two-part instructional blog series to explain how these pills are used for a safe and effective abortion. In today’s piece, we’ll review how misoprostol is used by itself for abortion. Come back next week as we cover how mifepristone and misoprostol are used in combination.

Preparing For An Abortion With Misoprostol

First things first: gather your resources. You will need 12 misoprostol pills that are 200 mcg each to terminate a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks of gestation. Not sure how far along the pregnancy is? Don’t worry, we can help.

If you are having a difficult time finding safe abortion pills near you, visit our country profiles to learn more about local resources.

Find a place where you feel safe and relaxed when you are ready to begin the abortion. You can expect that heavy bleeding and cramping will be part of the process. (Though yes- there are ways that you can make yourself feel more comfortable during the abortion and reduce pain from cramping. Just plan ahead.) The pregnancy is usually expelled within 24 hours of using the first dose of misoprostol.

Instructions For An Abortion With Misoprostol

Ready to begin the abortion? Let’s walk through the instructions together.

Step 1: Swallow a drink of water to make your mouth moist.

Step 2: Place 4 misoprostol pills between the inside of your cheek and your bottom gums. Two pills go on the left side of your mouth, and two pills go on the right side of your mouth. (Alternatively, if it’s easier, you can place all 4 pills under your tongue.)

Step 3: Allow the pills to dissolve for 30 minutes. They may make your mouth taste chalky or dry as they dissolve. This is okay. Do not eat or drink anything during these 30 minutes.

Step 4: After 30 minutes, use water to drink down everything that is left of the pills.

Step 5: Wait 3-4 hours before proceeding to the next step.

Step 6: Repeat steps 1-4 with another set of 4 misoprostol pills.

Step 7: Wait 3-4 hours before proceeding to the final step.

Step 8: Repeat steps 1-4 with the last set of 4 misoprostol pills.

What Should I Expect After An Abortion With Misoprostol?

Women should always expect bleeding and cramping after using the misoprostol pills. The bleeding may be similar to or heavier than a regular period. Don’t be surprised if the bleeding continues for 3-4 weeks following the abortion. This is normal. The bleeding should gradually lighten over time until it stops.

If the bleeding feels excessive, count how many pads you’ve used. If you’ve completely soaked two regular menstrual pads in an hour for two hours straight (totaling 4 soaked menstrual pads in 2 hours), seek emergency care. (To be clear, soaking means that the pad is completely soaked with blood, front-to-back, side-to-side, and all the way through.)

On the other hand, if you notice that you are not bleeding, or the bleeding is very light, you can visit our friends at, or Little or no bleeding is often a sign that the abortion was not successful, and these teams may be able to support you with next steps.

Menstrual periods should return roughly 4-6 weeks after the abortion.

And remember: women can get pregnant again almost immediately after having an abortion. If you’d like to avoid pregnancy in the near future, consider a contraceptive option.

If you are looking to learn more about safe medical abortion, you can visit our website or send us an email at You can also follow us on social media: we’re FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest.

Claire is a teacher, reproductive rights advocate, and the manager of