Medical abortion has quickly become one of the most common forms of abortion in early pregnancy. Whether women are having these abortions at home or in clinic, the abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol are both safe and effective.
As is the case for any medical procedure, it’s important that women are fully informed about the medical abortion process before they begin. However, censorship and cultural stigma can often act as barriers between women and this critical information.
Below we’ve put together a quick list of 6 important things that all women should know before having an abortion, but that are rarely discussed. Browse the list, share the information, and help ensure that all women have access to the comprehensive reproductive health information that they are entitled to.
1. Timing Is Important
How far along is the pregnancy? It’s a question that many women are asked first when they meet with a safe abortion provider. That’s because the gestational length of the pregnancy very much determines which abortion protocols will be safest and most effective.
At HowToUse, we provide instructional information for a safe medical abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Need help calculating how far along the pregnancy is? You can check out the pregnancy calculator on our website, or learn how to calculate it yourself.
2. IUDs Need To Be Removed
If a woman uses an intrauterine device (IUD) as a method of birth control, it needs to be removed before having a medical abortion (IUDs are long-lasting forms of contraception that discreetly stay within a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. Interested? You can read more here). IUDs that are left in during a medical abortion may seriously injure the uterus. Talk to your medical provider about removing your IUD.
3. HIV And Abortion
HIV status does not impact medical abortion safety, so long as the individual is generally healthy. Make sure that you are not getting sicker, you are on antiretroviral drugs, and you feel in overall good health.
4. Continuing To Breastfeed
Breastfeeding women do not necessarily need to stop breastfeeding during the abortion process, but they will want to time it carefully. Misoprostol can transfer through breast milk and cause diarrhea in babies. To avoid this, breastfeed the baby, take the misoprostol pills, and wait 4 hours before breastfeeding again.
5. Monitor Anemia
Anemia is when someone has low levels of iron in their blood. Anemic women who have a medical abortion should ensure that they are within 30 minutes of medical care just in case an emergency should arise. Women who are severely anemic should consult their medical doctors before using the abortion pills.
6. Protect Your Privacy
There are many ways that women may be instructed to use misoprostol pills: under the tongue, along the lower gum line, or inserted vaginally. Though all those methods are generally effective, they are not equally private.
Misoprostol pills that are used within the mouth tend to dissolve faster and disappear quickly. Not only do vaginally inserted pills have a slightly higher chance of causing infection, they also dissolve slowly. This can be a problem if a woman is using abortion pills in a legally restrictive setting. If for whatever reason she needs to seek out emergency care, doctors may notice the remnants of the abortion pills still in her vagina. For that reason, HowToUse does not recommend using misoprostol pills vaginally.
Want more information about safe medical abortion? Visit our website to read all about the medical abortion process. You can also follow us on social media to learn more: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Flipboard.