What is a medical abortion?

A medical abortion uses a medicine or a combination of tablets to cause the non-surgical termination of an early pregnancy up until the 13th week of pregnancy.

The safest, most effective type of medical abortion requires the use of two different pills. These medicines, called Mifepristone and Misoprostol, provoke the spontaneous expulsion of the pregnancy from the uterus. Mifepristone and Misoprostol are on the list of essential medicines of the World Health Organization.[1]


Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which is required to sustain a pregnancy. Without this hormone, the attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterine wall is disrupted, and the uterus contracts.


Misoprostol enhances contractions and helps to expel the products of conception from the uterus.

Mifepristone with Misoprostol

Mifepristone with Misoprostol are proven to be highly effective, safe and acceptable for early first trimester abortions. The effects of this method of abortion include cramping and prolonged menstrual-like bleeding. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The risk of serious complication is exceptionally low. Research indicates that it is safe to perform the medical abortion procedure at home as long as the woman lives near a hospital or other emergency service.


[1] WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, March 2017