What to do in case of emergency?

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If you have any sign of complication you must seek medical care. Any doctor or health facility can treat those. The doctor cannot see the difference between abortion with pills and natural miscarriage and the treatment is the same. About 20% of all pregnancies end up in miscarriage, so it is very common event. 1

The possible complications after medical abortion are:

  • Ongoing pregnancy happens in less than 0,5% of the cases for pregnancies up to 9 weeks. In these cases women can repeat the medical abortion or do a surgical abortion. Women can also decide to continue the pregnancy, but they  should be aware of the potential risk of malformation
  • Incomplete abortion – between 2-5% of the women that have a medical abortion are diagnosed with an incomplete abortion. Common symptoms include prolonged vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. Signs of infection may be also present. Incomplete abortion may be treated using either vacuum aspiration or an additional dose of misoprostol.
  • Hemorrhage - excessive bleeding. It occurs very rarely (0,2% of cases15) but must be treated immediately in the hospital. Women that bleed too much feel dizzy or pass out.
  • Infection - in less than 1% 30 of women after medical abortion. Common symptoms of infection include fever or chills, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, persistent abdominal pain. Antibiotic treatment is given for infection; sometimes a vacuum aspiration is needed.

The risk of a complication is low (2-5 women in every 100), 11 and the need for emergency care (that might be needed in case the woman suffers from heavy bleeding) is extremely low (1 in every 2000 women).1,15  However, to make the process as safe as possible, it is important to be near medical care in case of an emergency or a complication throughout the process of abortion.  If a woman lives far from medical care, she should use the medicines where she can access medical care, preferably within one or two hours. She should also plan how she would get to medical care (by car, taxi, or in case of emergency by ambulance).

If possible, the woman should choose a hospital or doctor where she knows that women having miscarriages are treated respectfully.

If a woman seeks medical attention, she does not have to say she used medicines.  She can say she is having a miscarriage.  The symptoms and treatment of a complication of miscarriage is exactly the same as treatment for abortion.

Misoprostol cannot be detected in the blood or any body fluids within a few hours after use.   Even if a hospital claims that they can check to see if a woman took medicines to cause the miscarriage, it is not true. 55

Signs of complication

What should I do if the pregnancy continues after I took the medicines?

  • Signs of complication

    Complications after medical abortion are rare 1,15 , and include severe bleeding and infection. You should go to the doctor or hospital if you have any of the signs of complication below: Severe bleeding (more than 2 or 3 pads used every hour for more than 2 or 3 hours) Severe abdominal pain that… Read more »