Nausea and Medication Abortion
How to manage abortion with pills when you're throwing up (or think you might)
Everybody knows what morning sickness is: nausea during pregnancy. It affects as many as 80 percent of pregnant people, some worse than others, and it seems like almost anything can trigger an episode, from strong smells to low blood sugar to not getting enough sleep.
Then there are the people who are just prone to nausea, whether or not they're pregnant. If you're one of them, you know it. Maybe you gag when you're overheated, or you try to read on a bus, or you try to eat things with a certain texture. Maybe you just feel sick sometimes for no apparent reason.
If you're one or the other (or both…sorry), you might be wondering how you're supposed to have an abortion with pills when there's a chance you won't be able to keep the pills down so they can work. Here's what you need to know.
Medicine that treats nausea and vomiting is called antiemetic medicine. The most common over-the-counter antiemetic is the antihistamine diphenhydramine, which is sold as Benadryl, Nytol, Unisom, Sominex and lots of other brand names. Prescription drugs metaclopramide (Reglan) and ondansetron (Zofran) offer stronger relief without interfering with the abortion process. These medications should be taken before beginning to take the abortion pills.
Mifepristone is swallowed. If it's vomited up less than 90 minutes after it's taken, it may not work as well, but the person can still continue the procedure and take misoprostol. If the person vomits more than 90 minutes after taking mifepristone, the medication has already been absorbed.
Misoprostol is not swallowed, but placed between the cheek and gum for 30 minutes per dose (or under the tongue, if you are using misoprostol alone). The person should also not eat or drink anything while the pills dissolve, other than swallowing any saliva that builds up. Misoprostol has no taste. It is effective as long as the person doesn't vomit during those 30 minutes. If someone does vomit before the 30 minutes are up, it's best to take another dose.
If you suspect you might throw up during your self-managed abortion, be prepared with anti-nausea medication before you take the pills and something stomach-soothing to sip afterwards. And if you have any questions, read AbortionPillInfo.org or contact our confidential counselors. We'll do our best to help you settle your worries and your stomach.