Medication abortion works by stopping the progress of a pregnancy, then helping your body flush it out.
The abortion pill is actually two separate medicines. The first is mifepristone, also known as the pill RU-486, which starts the process of safely terminating a pregnancy. “Mifepristone blocks the receptors for progesterone, which is the principal hormone in pregnancy. Since progesterone can’t do its job to continue the pregnancy, essentially, the pregnancy stops growing. According to the standard of practice, you’ll take this medication in the presence of a medical professional (in some states, this is required by law, although researchers are currently testing the logistics and safety of getting abortion pills by mail). Then you’ll get the second medicine, misoprostol, to take at home 24 to 48 hours later.
Misoprostol helps your uterus expel the pregnancy. Depending on when you take it, you may already have started to experience bleeding and cramping as your body realizes the pregnancy is no longer progressing. Like in a miscarriage that happens without the aid of medication, the body will start to cramp and push out a pregnancy that has stopped growing. To ensure it’s done safely, we add misoprostol so the risks of heavy bleeding and infection are reduced.