Medical Abortion and Your Period
You've confirmed that your medical abortion was successful. Now, when can you expect to get your period again?
Your menstrual cycle begins immediately after your abortion. If you don't start hormonal birth control, you'll likely ovulate 2-4 weeks later (which means you can get pregnant) and bleed in 4-7. Don't panic if that period is delayed, heavier than normal, with more clots, or even lighter. It can take a little while to stabilize your hormone levels after pregnancy, which means that you could experience irregularities in your cycle. If you typically have irregular periods, it could take up to 12 weeks for your period to restart. This is one of many reasons why it's important to establish that your abortion is complete — so you don't drive yourself bananas wondering if your weirdly behaving period means you're still pregnant. You might also want to think about tracking your period once it does return, if you weren't already doing so. In order to prevent infection after your abortion, you should avoid inserting anything, including tampons, into your vagina, for up to 2 weeks.
If you do a follow-up visit after your medical abortion, which you might have to do if you live in a state where you're required to take mifepristone in the office, your healthcare provider should ask you what you're planning to do to avoid another unplanned pregnancy. (Some providers will actually insert an IUD in the office after an aspiration abortion is complete, since the cervix is already dilated.) You can start hormonal contraception up to 5 days after taking the misoprostol, so you'll be immediately protected. If the ring is your preferred method of birth control, you can insert it 2 to 3 days later. If you find yourself waiting longer than 5 days to start hormonal birth control, you should use a barrier method in the meantime if you're having sex that involves a penis and a vagina.
Opting for a hormonal birth control method, such as birth control pills or the Mirena IUD will mean your period is impacted, so you will experience lighter periods, or no periods at all, but that will be due to your birth control method and not being pregnant. Make sure you communicate with your healthcare provider about any questions or clarifications.
It's recommended that you have a follow-up after your medical abortion, even if you're sure it worked. Sometimes, though, this isn't an option. People often choose medical abortion because they can't have others knowing about their abortion, because they don't have access an abortion provider. Complications as the result of a medical abortion are extremely rare. They include very heavy bleeding (going through more than 2 or 3 pads every hour for more than 2 or 3 hours) and the absence of your period entirely. If your period doesn't make an appearance two or three months after your abortion, you should see a doctor. It doesn't necessarily mean you're still pregnant — although you should verify that by taking a pregnancy test. It could be an indication of a medical condition you weren't previously aware of. Listen to your body. If you feel like something isn't quite right, and you're able to seek medical care, please do so.
Self-managed abortion is safe, and you can perform it at home, or in a place where you feel safe. Remember that the earlier you can access medical abortion, the more likely it is to be successful. The mifepristone + misoprostol combination, commonly known as "the abortion pill" is effective (95-98%) up until 11 weeks of pregnancy, and misoprostol on its own is 80-85% effective when taken until week 12 of pregnancy. You can get the answers to your questions about your post-abortion period, starting contraceptives, how to get abortion pills, and more in our FAQ's.