How Long Does a Self-Managed Abortion Take?
Planning your time for safety and comfort.
Going to a clinic for a surgical abortion can require a lot of time to plan and get to the facility, but after a person arrives, they’ll spend just a few hours there, and most of that time will involve talking to the clinic staff, filling out paperwork, and recovering after the procedure. The abortion itself takes just a few minutes – generally less than half an hour, and often a lot less than that.
By comparison, a person can have an abortion with pills without ever leaving their home, but it takes more time.
Whether a person uses mifepristone and misoprostol or misoprostol alone, they are likely to start feeling temporary side effects like nausea, diarrhea, chills, or a light fever within an hour of taking the misoprostol. Most people will begin cramping and bleeding 1 to 5 hours after using the misoprostol. The bleeding is heaviest after 2 to 5 hours, but period-like bleeding can continue for 24 hours or more.
As a result, people need to set aside a full day for the process. Having a plan will make the time pass more easily: They should be in a safe, comfortable place, if possible with someone they trust who can provide help if needed. They should have easy access to a toilet, enough sanitary pads to change them frequently, anti-nausea medication, and pain medication for the cramps. And having snacks and other comforting things, like cozy socks or a heating pad, will help them get through the day.
Get accurate, up-to-date information about abortion with pills (and lots more!) at AbortionPillInfo.org and on the Euki reproductive health app, now available in English and Spanish for iOS and Android.