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Medical bulletin

I Decide: Young women's journeys to seek abortion care

Medical bulletin

A medical abortion is done using pills to cause the termination of a pregnancy. The most effective type of medical abortion requires the use of two different pills, called mifepristone (also known as ‘the abortion pill’, branded RU 486, Mifegyn or Mifeprex), and misoprostol (also known by the brand name: Cytotec, Arthrotec, Oxaprost, Cyprostol, Mibetec, Prostokos or Misotrol).

This method has two parts to it:

  1. The first part involves swallowing a tablet (mifepristone). This blocks the hormone that supports the pregnancy.
  2. The second part involves taking the misoprostol tablets by placing them between the cheek and the gum, under the tongue or in the vagina causing the uterus (womb) to cramp and the lining to break down.


The pills will cause bleeding, like during your period (menstruation) and that will end the pregnancy. This is similar to having a miscarriage. The bleeding lasts up to two weeks on average. In many countries, for abortions in the first 9 weeks you are allowed to take the misoprostol at home after being seen in the clinic for the mifepristone. For medical abortions later in pregnancy, you usually have to wait in a clinic or hospital until the abortion is completed.