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19 Nov 2019

IPPF Video: How does a medical abortion aka the abortion pill work?

International Planned Parenthood Federation


Self-administration, Medical Abortion (MA), Converting unsafe services, Pharmacy provision, WHO guidelines

Ever wondered how a medical abortion, also known as a medication abortion or 'the abortion pill', actually works?

IPPF have developed a short animated video explaining the process:

Medical abortion is also known as ‘the abortion pill’ and is usually taken within the first 12 weeks of gestation. However, the World Health Organization provides guidelines on the safe management of medical abortion up to 28 weeks.

The video explains how long the process usually takes; what medication is used and how it works; when the pills are taken; how effective the method is, both in cases where medication is combined and when a person takes only misoprostol; and how to ease the resulting pain and discomfort.

The video also covers common side effects to be expected; when to seek urgent medical advice; what to expect in the days after a medical abortion; when periods are likely to return; how soon after a medical abortion someone can have sex and where to find more information.

The video is currently available in EnglishFrench, and Spanish.

For further information on the World Health Organization’s recommendations on medical abortion, visit their guidelines on Medical Management of Abortion. For detailed instructions on how to administer medical abortion drugs, access Safe2Choose's simple guide to abortion with pills.

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