What should I expect after I take the abortion pills?

Remember that each person’s experience is different and the symptoms can vary from person to person.


  • Heavy bleeding and strong cramps start a bout 1-4 hours after taking the second medicine (misoprostol). Heavy bleeding means the treatment is working. 
  • Bleeding can be very heavy (usually heavier than your period), sometimes with clots (up to the size of a lemon). Heavy bleeding is normal. If you completely soak through 2 maxi pads per hour for at least 2 hours in a row, you are bleeding too much and should seek care. 
  • Heavy bleeding can last for a few hours (usually around 6 hours), but usually not more than 24 hours, then gets lighter. 
  • Use maxi pads so you can tell how much you’re bleeding. You can use tampons when the heavy bleeding lets up.
  • If you see pregnancy tissue (usually white or gray in color), it can be flushed down the toilet. You may not see it. The pregnancy is very small. 
  • It’s normal to have bleeding or spotting for a few days or weeks after treatment. It may start and stop a few times. It should get lighter and lighter. 
  • Your period should come back in about 4-8 weeks, but this is different for each person 

Pain & Cramping: Strong cramping is a normal part of the treatment and usually starts a few hours after taking the second medicine (misoprostol). 

Here are some things that can help:

  • Take pain medicine, like ibuprofen (or Tylenol if you’re allergic). You can take ibuprofen 800 mg every 8 hours (or Tylenol every 4-6 hours) as needed
  • Put a hot water bottle or heating pad on your belly
  • Take a shower
  • Sit on the toilet
  • Have someone rub your back
  • Drink warm tea or soup 

You will cramp less and less as the hours and days go by. 

Other common symptoms:

  • Fever and chills: are common during the first 24 hours after taking the second medicine (misoprostol). Ibuprofen or Tylenol can help. This should go away within 24 hours.  
  • Headache: ibuprofen or Tylenol can help
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea: this should go away in 1 or 2 days after you take the pills.
  • Feeling tired: you may feel tired for 1 or 2 days. You should be back to normal soon.
  • Breast changes: tenderness should go away within a week. You may leak a milky discharge. Wear a snug-fitting bra if you do. This should stop in a couple days.

When can I go back to my regular activities? It is safe to go back to your regular activities -- school, work, driving, exercise -- as soon as you feel up to it. 

  • You can eat normally before, during, and after the treatment. 
  • You can have sex and/or use tampons whenever you are ready. 
  • You can take a shower or bath as soon as you want to. 

You should start to feel better each day after treatment. Please let us know if you don’t.

Sadness or mood changes: You may feel relieved when the abortion is over. You may also feel sad or moody, which is normal and can come from hormonal changes now that you’re no longer pregnant. If you think your emotions are not what they should be, please talk to us. There are also great support text and talklines on our Resources page. 

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