Medical Abortion

Medical Abortion: What is it?

medical abortion is one that is brought about by taking medications that will end a pregnancy. There are two medications that can be used to end early pregnancy: mifepristone or methotrexate. Mifepristone is also known as the Abortion Pill or RU486. Either Mifepristone or methotrexate is taken together with another medication, misoprostol, to induce an abortion. After a medical abortion you should be able to resume your normal activities. Most women do not need to miss work to complete a medical abortion.

Medical Abortion compared to the SofTouch™ Aspiration Procedure

Medical abortion is one of two non-surgical abortion methods.  Most women who come to Early Options choose the SofTouch™ Aspiration procedure instead of  medical abortion. The SofTouch™  Aspiration Procedure is a quick and gentle early abortion method that takes minutes to complete. The SofTouch™ Aspiration Procedure has some advantages over medical abortion. It is completed in one visit to the doctor’s office, it has a higher success rate, there is significantly less bleeding and cramping, and there is immediate recovery.

Medical Abortion and the Abortion Pill

Today, most medical abortion is completed with Mifepristone (Abortion Pill). This is the best medication for ending early pregnancy. It is 95-99% effective. It is convenient, because you can schedule a time to induce the miscarriage. Methotrexate has a higher failure rate, can only be used up to 7 weeks of pregnancy, and has a more unpredictable bleeding pattern. Since the FDA approval of mifepristone, methotrexate is mainly prescribed for ectopic pregnancies (or abnormal pregnancies that are in the tube, rather than in the uterus).

In some countries where mifepristone is not available, women use misoprostol, or Cytotec® for abortion. Cytotec® is much less effective than mifepristone. Cytotec® is about 80% successful at ending pregnancy. This is problematic, because Cytotec® causes birth defects. In addition, the bleeding is unpredictable.

Medical Abortion is a Three Step Process:

You take the first Abortion Pill (mifepristone) in the doctor’s office. The doctor determines if you are eligible for the Abortion Pill by doing an ultrasound, and making sure you are between 5-9 weeks pregnant.

You take the second set of medicines (misoprostol) at home, 24-72 hours after taking mifepristone. Within hours, most women experience strong period-like cramps and bleeding.

You return to the doctor’s office to make sure the medical abortion was successful.

How is Medical Abortion Provided at Early Options®

  • You will only meet experienced doctors and staff. Our office was one of the original research sites for medical abortion in the United States. All of our doctors have completed specialized training in medical abortion.
  • You have a private 1-2 hour visit. All care is conducted in a private examination room. You have a scheduled appointment. No crowded waiting rooms.
  • You have an initial consultation with a doctor to discuss your early abortion options. You will be able to choose a medical abortion, or a non-surgical Aspiration Procedure. You do not need to make a decision until you talk with your doctor about the choice that’s right for you.
  • The doctor completes an ultrasound and makes sure you are not anemic to be sure it is safe to complete a medical abortion.
  • You are given detailed, clear instructions on what to expect, and how to experience the least amount of discomfort. You have as much time as you need to ask as many questions as you want.
  • Your companion can stay with you the entire visit.
  • You are given pain medicines and anti-nausea medicine to take home with you. You do not need to fill a prescription.
  • All follow up care is included in the one-time fee. There are no additional charges for follow up visits, even if the medical abortion is not successful.
  • 24 on-call service with an experienced doctor

What does a Medical Abortion Cost?


  • All medical visits with a board certified doctor
  • Initial ultrasound to determine eligibility
  • Ultrasound to determine success of medical abortion
  • All medications, including pain medicines and anti-nausea medicines
  • All follow up care. You are never charged more for additional care.
  • SofTouch™ Aspiration Abortion procedure if medical abortion is unsuccessful.
  • Call our offices for fees.

When Is Medical Abortion Completed?

medical abortion is best completed between 5 and 9 weeks from the first day of your last menstrual period. At your first medical visit the doctor will do an ultrasound to make sure you are eligible for a medical abortion. Methotrexate is only effective under 7 weeks of pregnancy.

How does a Medical Abortion Work?

Mifepristone is a pill. It works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which is necessary to sustain pregnancy. Without this hormone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, the cervix (opening of the uterus or womb) softens, and bleeding begins.

Mifepristone (the abortion pill or RU-486) is a medication that was first licensed in France and China in 1988. Since then it has been used safely by millions of women worldwide. It was approved for use in the U.S. in September, 2000.

Misoprostol. Within a few days after taking either mifepristone a second drug, misoprostol, is taken. Misoprostol tablets cause the uterus to contract and empty. This ends the pregnancy.

Methotrexate. Methotrexate has been used in the U.S. since 1953, when it was approved by the FDA to treat certain types of cancer. Since that time, medical researchers have discovered other important uses for the drug. One of these uses is to end unintended pregnancies. Although the FDA did not consider methotrexate for this specific purpose, clinicians may prescribe methotrexate for early abortion.

Mifepristone and methotrexate work in different ways. Generally Mifepristone is the first choice for medical abortion because it has a higher success rate, it is more predictable, and has a shorter bleeding pattern. Since the approval of Mifepristone, methotrexate is mainly used to end early ectopic pregnancies.