RU486 – The “Abortion Pill”

Medical Abortion – RU486

A medical or chemical abortion is an alternative to surgery in the very early weeks of pregnancy. Mifepristone (RU486, known as the abortion pill) and Misoprostol are the two drugs used. It is a 2-stage process and can be done as soon as a pregnancy is detected and can be seen on an ultrasound. In Australia a medical abortion can be performed only up to 8 – 9 weeks. Beyond this a surgical abortion is necessary. The cost of a medical abortion is around $560.00.

There are things you should know about the process of a chemical abortion, and about your own health, before making a decision.

The First Stage:

Mifepristone, a synthetic steroid, is administered by mouth or vaginally. It acts by blocking the action of progesterone that is needed to maintain the early developing pregnancy. Mifepristone changes the lining of the uterus, causing the embryo to detach. It opens the cervix and increases the sensitivity of the uterus to Misoprostol.

The Second Stage:
Misoprostol (administered in tablet form) is widely used in surgical termination of pregnancies to increase the safety of the procedure and reduce the risk of bleeding. For medical abortion it is administered approximately 48 hours after the Mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, assisting in the expulsion of the embryo and associated tissue.

Before You Have A Medical Abortion (RU486) You Will Need To:

o Have an ultrasound to check the stage of your pregnancy
o Talk with a nurse, doctor or counsellor
o See a doctor who will ask you about your medical history

Follow Up After A Medical Abortion

It’s important to have a follow-up appointment with the doctor or healthcare professional to confirm the pregnancy has ended. At this appointment an ultrasound (and possibly a blood test) should be done to make sure the termination is complete. In about 2 percent of cases, the abortion is not complete and a surgical termination is needed.

Possible Side Effects And Risks Of A Medical Abortion Are:

o Cramping of the uterus or pelvic pain
o Nausea or vomiting
o Diarrhoea
o Warmth, fever or chills
o Headache
o Dizziness
o Fatigue
o Allergic reaction to drugs used
o Haemorrhage (heavy bleeding) possibly requiring treatment with an operation, a blood transfusion or both
o Incomplete removal of the embryo, placenta or contents of the uterus, requiring follow up surgery
o Inability to get pregnant due to an infection or complication of a subsequent operation
o Death – rarely

Some Women Should Not Take Mifepristone

Mifepristone is not recommended for all women and so a thorough medical history needs to be taken to rule out anything that may mean it would be unsafe for you to take it including if you –
o have a blood disorder
o have high blood pressure
o have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
o are more than 9 weeks pregnant
o have allergic reaction to medications containing mifepristone
o are fitted with an intrauterine device (IUD). The device would need to be removed before taking mifepristone.

Disadvantages Of Taking Mifepristone Include:

o The abortion happens at home – something that women can find distressing
o There may be a lot of bleeding which could result in the need to have a surgical abortion or, in rare cases, a blood transfusion
o There may be infection
o The procedure fails in around 2% of women who then may need a surgical abortion
o Though rare, Mifepristone can take days to work

(updated July 2018)

ABORTION DECISIONS are almost always difficult and lonely.  A skilled and independent counsellor from OPEN DOORS COUNSELLING can help you talk through your feelings, situation, and choices in a respectful, non-directive way. Low cost, unlimited face to face sessions are available.

NEED TO TALK?  Click here to request a contact from one of our counsellors

or use our Contact Form to request an appointment or a call back, or to ask a question. On the form tell us your phone number (Australia only), the best day and time for us to call you, and let us know if it’s ok to leave a message should you not be able to answer the phone.  A counsellor will call by the next business day during Centre opening hours (Mon: 9.30-8.00pm; Tues, Wed, Thur: 9.30-3.00pm. Closed public holidays.) You can also request an appointment for face to face counselling or just ask a question.

03 9870 7044 or 1800 647 995 (freecall outside Melbourne).
5 Greenwood Ave Ringwood Victoria 3134 Australia

Are You Considering Abortion?
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