Are you thinking about having a medical abortion but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry! We have got your back. In this blog, we have listed the 10 most important things you can consider before choosing a medical abortion. From laws in your country to gestational age, possible side effects, and financial questions, we have covered topics that you can keep in mind while preparing for an abortion with pills.

Top 10 considerations for medical abortion, including access, costs, and support

1. Abortion Access

Understand the accessibility of (medical) abortion in your area. Is abortion legal? Which abortion methods are available? And how do I access them? Getting clarity on these and other questions will give you a better understanding of your possibilities. If things are not clear or hard to understand, you can consider seeking guidance from reputable sources such as healthcare providers, feminist groups, or local organizations specializing in reproductive health. You can check out this link for more information on abortion in your country.

2. Gestational Age

Confirm if you are within the gestational age limit for medical abortion. The HowToUse protocol is meant for pregnancies up to 13 weeks. You can calculate your gestational age using methods such as ultrasound (if that is an option) or menstrual history. Our pregnancy calculator is a great resource in this regard. You can use it here. Knowing your gestational age helps you decide if a medical abortion is the right procedure for you.

3. Medical Eligibility

Most women and pregnant people can have a medical abortion. You can have an abortion with pills if you have HIV and are on antiretroviral medication, if you have another stable chronic condition, if you have a sexually transmitted infection, if you’re breastfeeding, if you are overweight or underweight, and if you have cancer. There are some health conditions that should be assessed by a qualified health care professional; for example, if you have severe and uncontrolled asthma, severe anemia, or symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Also, if you use an IUD—an intrauterine contraceptive device placed in the uterus—it must be removed before taking abortion pills.

4. Understanding the process

Familiarize yourself with the steps involved in medical abortion, including taking medication, resting, and follow-up care. It is always useful to learn about the medications used in medical abortion, such as mifepristone and misoprostol, and their mechanisms of action. In this previous blog, we briefly discussed what these pills are, how they look, and how they work. Knowing the dosing regimen and administering the pills as instructed are important for a successful and safe abortion.

5. Side effects and complications

To ensure a safe abortion with pills, it is important to educate yourself about the potential side effects associated with medical abortion. It is important to know what the side effects are, such as cramping, abdominal pain, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. This way, you can manage the side effects appropriately by taking painkillers, doing self-care for common side effects and reaching out to medical experts in the rare case of experiencing complications. In this blog, we provide detailed guidance and tips for medical abortion aftercare.

6. Financial considerations

Evaluate the cost of the medical abortion, including the cost of the pills and any additional health and self-care expenses. The cost of abortion pills varies in different countries and even between different providers in the same country. It is important to get an overview of the costs of different abortion services to make the best choice. Depending on your life circumstances, you may also need to consider additional expenses such as childcare or time off from work.

7. Time commitment

Allocate time for the medical abortion procedure as well as rest and recovery after the abortion. As mentioned above, before obtaining and using the abortion pills, it’s important to inform yourself, which can be time-consuming. Then, you have to arrange your days in such a way that you have time available to go through the abortion process. Once the misoprostol is absorbed into the body, cramping and bleeding will start. This usually begins within 1 to 2 hours of the first set of pills. The abortion usually happens within 24 hours of taking the last pills of misoprostol. It is also important to have buffer time to recover and be in a safe and comfortable environment when experiencing side effects.

8. Support system

Consider enlisting a supportive network of friends, family, or a partner to assist you during and after the abortion process. You can identify individuals in your life whom you trust and feel comfortable with and ask them to be available when needed. The understanding, empathy, and non-judgmental support of loved ones throughout the process can make a huge difference. Make sure you communicate your needs and preferences to them, whether it’s practical assistance with household chores or emotional support during recovery, so that they can help you in useful ways. You can also share our blog on supporting someone during and after an abortion with them. It is addressed to partners but is very well applicable to all loved ones.

9. Contingency Plan

Medical abortion is absolutely safe to have at home. However, it is always smart to have a plan for emergencies, in the rare case of complications. One of the most important things you can do is research the availability of 24-hour emergency healthcare facilities in your area that could assist you if needed. Consider factors such as proximity, transportation options, and clinic hours when doing this research.

10. Privacy concerns

Consider your need for privacy and confidentiality during the abortion process, especially if you live in a community where abortion is stigmatized. You will have to assess your comfort level before disclosing your decision to have a medical abortion to others, including friends, family, or acquaintances, especially if you would like to reach out to some of them for support. The same goes for healthcare providers: choose those who prioritize confidentiality and respect your rights. Telehealth services like ours are a great resource for added privacy and convenience, particularly if you prefer to avoid in-person interactions or live in a community where abortion services are scarce.

We hope that this blog has clarified some of the questions you may have. If you still have questions or would like to get more details, feel free to read more on what to do before your abortion pills here.