Medical abortion may be performed from the time a lady suspects and confirms she is pregnant up until nine weeks from her last menstrual period. However, some insurance companies limit medical abortion to pregnancies of seven weeks or less.
In clinical practice, medical abortion is about 95 percent to 98 percent effective, causing a lady to completely pass the pregnancy without the utilization of surgery. In comparison, early surgical abortion is effective 98 percent of the time.
The medications prescribed for medical abortion at the UCSF Women’s Options Center are mifepristone and misoprostol.
Mifepristone, also referred to as “Mifeprex” or “RU-486,” blocks the action of the natural hormone progesterone on the uterus. This causes the lining of the uterus to shed, because it does during a period, and stops the growth of the pregnancy. Misoprostol, also referred to as “Cytotec,” causes the uterus to contract and initiates bleeding and cramping.
A medical abortion results when mifepristone is combined with misoprostol.
How It Works

A medical abortion involves a minimum of two visits to a doctor’s office or clinic. The treatment includes giving the medication then confirming that the pregnancy has been terminated. In some cases more than two visits are necessary.
Day 1 — Come to the office visit for exam and counseling. You will tend and be instructed to require 200 milligrams, or 1 tablet, of mifepristone.
Day 2, 3, or 4 — at your comfort place, place four tablets, or 800 micrograms, of misoprostol in your vagina. You will be given instructions on how to do this.
Day 7 to 14 — At some point during this time, you’ll return to the office so we can confirm the abortion is complete. If the abortion isn’t complete, more follow-up visits could also be scheduled.
Medical Abortion vs. Emergency Contraception
Medical abortion is not the same as emergency contraception, also referred to as the morning-after pill. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy. Therefore, once pregnancy has occurred, this can be not effective. Medical abortion, on the opposite hand, works to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
Safety and Side Effects
Mifepristone has been studied for over 20 years. Millions of women in additional than 20 countries, includingU.S.., have used mifepristone and misoprostol or similar medications to possess an abortion. All studies have shown the procedure to be safe and effective; there are no reports of any long-term risks. Heavy bleeding requiring transfusion is extremely rare, occurring in but 0.5 percent of study patients.
Short-term side effects include:
Strong cramps
Fever and chills

There is no evidence of long-term risks with mifepristone when used for it and no long-term effects have been associated with misoprostol.
In 20 years of use, it has been linked with only 1 death because of a drug that’s now not utilized in the U.S. and has never been used at the UCSF Women’s Options Center.
There are no indications that any of the early abortion methods affect a woman’s fertility.
Little is thought about the effect of mifepristone on a developing embryo. Misoprostol has been related to birth defects when given in early pregnancy. Therefore, a lady should have a surgical abortion if a medical procedure fails.
Cost and Insurance
The cost of a medical procedure varies by clinic. However, some clinics charge similar rates for medical and surgical abortions. Many insurance companies, including Medi-Cal, will cover the cost of medical abortion. The UCSF Women’s Options Center offers a self-payment option for both medical and surgical abortion.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

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