What to do if your pregnancy continues after taking abortion pills

Thursday, April 18, 2019 blog Share

What happens if your pregnancy continues after you take the pills?

Woman taking pill

You know by now that self-managing your own abortion with pills is safe, you know what to do in order to avoid getting an infection after taking them, and you know how to tell if your abortion is successful, but what happens if your pregnancy continues after you take the pills?

Abortion with pills is extremely effective, especially if you take the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, which works 95-98% of the time up until 11 weeks of pregnancy. Misoprostol can also be taken on its own, and when it is, it works 80-85% of the time up until 12 weeks. There are circumstances, though, in which abortion pills might not terminate your pregnancy: if you have an ectopic pregnancy (that's when the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus), you have certain medical conditions (including an allergy to mifepristone or misoprostol), you don't take the pills as instructed, or the pills you got weren't actually abortion pills, which can happen if you order them from an unreliable source online.

After using abortion pills, your pregnancy symptoms should go away. If they don't, you should have an ultrasound to determine if you are actually still pregnant, and if so, to assess how far along you are. Finding out how pregnant you are is essential, because if you do decide to take abortion pills again, you should know if you're still within the timeframe when it's the safest and most effective. For example, if you took abortion pills the first time when you were 5 weeks pregnant, and you want to take them a second time at 9 weeks, you should know that the mifepristone/misoprostol combo works best when taken before 11 weeks, so it's imperative that you take the pills as soon as possible.

Getting an ultrasound is preferable to taking a pregnancy test not just because it can tell you how old your pregnancy is, but because it can confirm for you whether or not you're still pregnant more quickly than an actual pregnancy test. If you take a urine pregnancy test right after taking the pills, or even a week later, the test will not be accurate, since there will still be pregnancy hormones in your body even if you're no longer pregnant. It takes 3-4 weeks for those hormones to disappear, and you won't want to wait that long to confirm that your abortion didn't work.  The longer you wait, the more advanced your pregnancy will get, and the more expensive and complicated it will be to resolve the situation.

Once you've established that you're still pregnant, you have some choices to make. You can take abortion pills again (if you don't have an ectopic pregnancy, a medical condition, or allergy), you can seek out a different method of abortion care, such as an aspiration or dilation and evacuation, or you can carry the pregnancy to term. If you do decide to stay pregnant and deliver, you should know that the use of mifepristone/misoprostol or misoprostol on its own may cause fetal abnormalities. About 1% of the time, fetuses that have been exposed to misoprostol are born with conditions such as  Moebius syndrome (a neurological condition impacting the muscles), limb defects, club foot, central nervous system anomalies and anomalies involving the palate.

You are the only one who should decide what to do if your abortion is not successful. Women Help Women is here to answer your questions and connect you with abortion pills, as well as contraception.