Abortion Pill

A safe way to end an early pregnancy at home.

What is The Abortion Pill?

The abortion pill is also known as an Early Medical Abortion. Did you know the abortion pill is actually several pills? These pills are a safe way to end an early pregnancy. You can have an early medical abortion (EMA) using abortion pills up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

How do Abortion Pills Work?

A medical abortion involves taking two medicines.

The first medicine - Mifepristone.

This pill ends the pregnancy. It works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the womb lining breaks down and the pregnancy cannot continue to develop.

One Mifepristone pill is taken orally (swallowed whole with water).

The second medicine – Misoprostol.

These pills contain hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins occur naturally in the body and help the womb contract. This causes cramping and bleeding. An early medical abortion is similar to an early miscarriage.

Up to six Misoprostol pills are used in a medical abortion.

4 tablets are inserted into the vagina, tablets in the vagina will dissolve on their own. Alternatively, you can place the tablets in the mouth, between your cheek and gums to dissolve for 30 minutes before swallowing any remainder with water.

3 Hours after your first dose of Misoprostol, if you are feeling well but have had no bleeding or only light spotting, you should use the additional 2 Misoprostol pills in your treatment pack. You can insert them into your vagina or in your mouth between your cheek and gums to dissolve as before. When used together the Mifepristone and the Misoprostol will cause an abortion.

What to Expect After Taking Abortion Pills

You will have pain, cramping and bleeding. These are effects of the womb contracting to push out the pregnancy tissue. You may also pass blood clots.

The abortion will usually happen between 2 – 12 hours after taking Misoprostol.

We recommended that you have a partner or adult companion that you trust (aged over 18) with you during your medical abortion. This is to give you support at home. Partners and companions can find advice on how to be a good support person during a loved one’s abortion here.

Pain Relief

It is important to have pain medication at home. You may find the cramps are more painful than your usual period pains. We will give you some pain medication. We also recommend that you have some ibuprofen and paracetamol ready at home. The best pain relief for you to take will depend on your medical history. We will talk to you about pain relief during your consultation. Being comfortable at home with a heat pad is also effective at soothing pain.


Bleeding can vary for each person and each abortion. It is normal to have light, moderate, or heavy bleeding during a medical abortion. Not everyone will pass blood clots during a medical abortion. For those who do, the clots should be no larger than a lemon.

You may start to bleed after taking the first pill (Mifepristone). If this happens you must still take the second pills (Misoprostol) to complete the treatment.

Bleeding usually begins about 2 hours after taking the second pills. Most people will bleed for around 2 - 4 hours. This may start as light bleeding but will get heavier until you pass the pregnancy. After this, bleeding will gradually reduce. You will continue to bleed like a period for 7 - l4 days.

It’s important to have sanitary towels that are suitable for a heavy flow at home. Using sanitary towels will help keep track of your bleeding and prevent infection.

You may continue to bleed on and off for up to 4 weeks.

Find out more about what to expect and how to take abortion pills from our useful Abortion Guide Booklet.

Potential Risks/ Side Effects

Abortion pills are very safe. As with any medication there are some potential risks and side effects. We will talk to you about these possible complications during your consultation. The main risks or side effects of abortion pills include:

Excessive vaginal bleeding

Incomplete abortion


Allergic reactions

A feeling of light-headedness

Feeling feverish

High temperature


Nausea or sickness

Find out more about abortion aftercare and who to contact if you’re worried about side effects or complications.

How to Access Abortion Pills

Abortion Pills Taken at Home

Medical abortion aftercare

See out aftercare page for more information

Looking to get your abortion pills delivered by post? Head over to our page to see how we can help.

Get in touch with NUPAS

Give us a call:

United Kingdom:
0333 004 6666

Republic of Ireland:
(01) 874 0097

0044 161 4872660

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