RisksBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Potential risks of medical abortion include:
- Incomplete abortion, which may need to be followed by surgical abortion
- An ongoing unwanted pregnancy if the procedure doesn't work
- Heavy and prolonged bleeding
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
You must be certain about your decision before beginning a medical abortion. If you decide to continue the pregnancy after taking medications used in medical abortion, your baby will be at risk of significant birth defects.
Medical abortion hasn't been shown to affect future pregnancies unless complications develop.
Medical abortion isn't an option if you:
- Are too far along in your pregnancy. You shouldn't attempt a medical abortion if you've been pregnant for more than nine weeks (after the start of your last period). Some types of medical abortion aren't done after seven weeks of pregnancy.
- Have an intrauterine device (IUD).
- Have a suspected pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy).
- Have certain medical conditions. These include bleeding disorders; certain heart or blood vessel diseases; severe liver, kidney or lung disease; or an uncontrolled seizure disorder.
- Take a blood thinner or certain steroid medications.
- Can't make follow-up visits to your doctor or don't have access to emergency care.
- Have an allergy to the medications used.
Surgical abortion may be an option for women who want to end a pregnancy but can't have a medical abortion.
April 01, 2015
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Practice Bulletins — Gynecology and the Society of Family Planning. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 143: Medical management of first-trimester abortion. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2014;143:1.
- Bryant AG, et al. CME review article: An overview of medical abortion for clinical practice. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. 2014;69:39.
- Harwood B. First trimester medication abortion (termination of pregnancy). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 16, 2015.
- Simmonds K. Patient information: Abortion (pregnancy termination) (Beyond the Basics). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- Ling FW. Overview of pregnancy termination. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.