Early stage interruption

A healthcare professional will give you the abortion pill mifepristone to swallow in the clinic.

For pregnancies up to 9 weeks’ gestation, you may take the second medication, misoprostol, at the same time. If you are over 9 weeks or you prefer to wait, you will leave the clinic and return anytime from 1-3 days later. Your healthcare professional will discuss the options with you.

Most women can carry on their usual lives at home or work after taking mifepristone, but may have some bleeding and period-like pains.

It is unlikely that the abortion will happen after taking the first pill. However, if you think you miscarried between visits please tell us. We will do an ultrasound scan to decide if any further treatment is needed.

You may have nausea or vomiting. If you vomit within 1.5 hours of taking the pill, please inform the clinic as soon as possible, as you may need to take the pill again.

Either straight after the first tablet or on a different day, misoprostol tablets are placed in the vagina. You can place the tablets yourself or have a healthcare professional place them. You can put these tablets in while lying down, squatting, or standing with one leg up – whatever is most comfortable for you. Try to insert them as high up into your vagina as possible. Don’t worry too much about the exact position of the tablets in the vagina; it is not important for them to be in a specific place to be effective.

You will be given some antibiotics to take, pain medicine with instructions for use and advice on how to care for yourself. You will then leave the clinic to complete the abortion at home. You may feel more at ease if you have someone with you for this process.

The misoprostol tablets will cause you to have cramps and bleed heavily. This usually starts about 2 hours after using the misoprostol, but may start sooner. Bleeding and cramping usually last a few hours; you will probably need pain relief at this stage. For more information on pain control please see the ‘Pain control’ section below.

You may see large blood clots or tissue at the time of the abortion. The tissue will be larger and more recognisable at higher gestations. Under 8 weeks, you are only likely to see the sac within which the early pregnancy is developing. A 10 week fetus is about the size of a large grape and you may recognise its shape. If you are worried about what you may see when the abortion happens, please discuss this with your healthcare professional.

Most women pass the pregnancy within 4 or 5 hours after taking the misoprostol. For others it can be quicker or take longer. Almost all women miscarry within a few days.

It’s normal to have some bleeding or spotting for up to 4 weeks after the abortion – use sanitary pads to make it easier to keep track of your bleeding.

If you have not started to bleed within 24 hours of taking the misoprostol contact your clinic or Aftercare telephone line.