Mifepristone is a drug used in combination with misoprostol to cause a medical abortion in women up to 9 weeks of pregnancy.
Using these 2 drugs in the manner prescribed will end a pregnancy in up to 92-95% of women.
Mifepristone acts to block the hormone progesterone which is essential to maintain a healthy uterus and sustain the growth and development of the embryo. When it blocks progesterone, it starves the embryo of nourishment. The embryo then detaches from the uterine wall. Mifepristone also causes softening and opening of the cervix.
In a medical abortion misoprostol is used to cause uterine contractions in an attempt to expel the embryo from the woman's body. It is taken 24-48 hours following the mifepristone.
According the manufacturer of the drug you should NOT take mifepristone if
- It has been more than 7 weeks since your last period
- You have an IUD in place
- You have an ectopic pregnancy (you must have an ultrasound to confirm this)
- You have problems with your adrenal glands
- You take any medications to thin your blood
- You have any bleeding problems
- If you take certain steroid medications
- If you are breastfeeding
- If you have kidney or liver failure
- If you have Crohn's Disease or other serious bowel disorder
- If you have had a previous caesarian
- If you are under 18 years old
- You cannot return to your doctor for the next 2 visits
- You cannot easily get emergency medical help in the 2 weeks after taking the drug
- You are allergic to the drug
As you can see from the above list, mifepristone is NOT suitable for any woman who is unable to visit her medical provider easily, or who is not in close proximity to emergency medical care for 2 weeks following administration. This is VERY important as this combination of drugs can cause serious side effects.
What can I expect after taking mifepristone and misoprostol?
You can expect significant cramping and bleeding which will last an average of 9-16 days, with some women reporting bleeding lasting a month or more.
Pain has been described by women as anything from 'uncomfortable' to 'excruciating'.
You may see the embryo or foetus expelled from your body. This can be very distressing for some women.
For up to 8% of women a surgical procedure may still be required in order to stop bleeding or because the medical abortion did not work and the woman is still pregnant.
Danco Laboratories, Medication Guide
National Abortion Federation.