Up to how many weeks can you have a medical abortion?

A warm hello to all readers! If you are reading this post, you seem to be looking forward to having an abortion. And some queries are popping up making your abortion options uncertain. So, here we are!

This post intends to help you understand:

  • What is a medical abortion?
  • Up to how many weeks can you have a medical abortion?
  • How does a medical abortion take place? What to expect during the abortion procedure?
  • When to seek immediate medical aid?
  • Legal things to know about abortion pills in different countries
  • Post-abortion care with a medical abortion
  • Complications and risks associated with abortion pills
  • Things to consider before choosing a medical abortion
  • Your abortion options when medical abortion is not a choice for you

Let’s begin! But before that, an important piece of information is:

Never opt for a self-abortion. Whether medical or surgical, abortions shall only be performed at registered abortion hospitals or clinics. And only by qualified and experienced doctors. Self-abortions carry huge risks. All risks with abortions are preventable if you choose to visit the best abortion hospital.

What is a medical abortion?

Medical abortion is a procedure used to stop a pregnancy from developing further and induce miscarriage.

At first, the pregnancy is ended. Then, it passes out through the vaginal route in the form of bleeding and large blood clots.

Medical method of abortion

Up to how many weeks can you have a medical abortion?

Whenever a doctor prescribes the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) with abortion pills, several factors go into making the decision. And pregnancy length plays a vital role in abortion method prescription.

Different countries, available facilities and approved medicines may also vary. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends medical abortion for pregnancies less than 8 weeks.

When you discover your pregnancy, you are most likely in your 5th week. So, you have 2-3 weeks for deciding whether you want to proceed with the pregnancy. If the pregnancy is unwanted or unplanned, you can choose to terminate the same.

Your abortion options may vary largely according to your country. But if you choose to get an abortion in India, it is legal for up to 24 weeks under diverse circumstances. However, medical abortion is the prescribed method only for pregnancies less than 6-8 weeks.

This is the earliest choice a woman has for an abortion. An important point to note is that abortion pills are prescribed only for terminating intrauterine pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies are treated differently. An ectopic pregnancy poses threat to a woman’s reproductive health and life. Therefore, you should get your pregnancy length and location always checked as a priority.

How does a medical abortion take place? What to expect during the abortion procedure?

Medical abortion takes place in two stages. These are:

Stage 1 of the medical abortion:

When the doctor examines you and prescribes you the medical abortion, you will take two medicines as directed.

Stage 1 of the medical abortion is taking the first tablet containing Mifepristone. Usually, the doctor gives it to you at the clinic and you will have to take it orally. In some cases, the doctor may administer it inside the vagina.

It may be a single pill or multiple pills. The doctor examines the patient needs and decides the best dosage.

What will the first medicine do to you?

Once you have the first medicine, you may go back home and resume your normal activities. You may not experience any difference. The medicine will work to stop the production of the hormone Progesterone. Also, it will inhibit the action of the available Progesterone since it is an anti-progestin.

In its absence, the embryo will stay devoid of essential nutrition. And then its development and growth will stop.

Stage 2 of the medical abortion:

Now, during the second stage, you may need to go on a second appointment to the abortion hospital. Or the doctor may give you the medicine during the first appointment itself. You will have to take it 1-2 days apart from the first medicine. The doctor shall give you the instructions on when and how to take the second medicine.

The second medicine is Misoprostol. You have this medicine when at home. Within 4-6 hours, your uterus may start contracting. You can expect to feel abdominal cramps and pain resulting from them.

Then, the embryo and other pregnancy tissues shall pass down your vagina in the form of blood clots. Your doctor may prescribe analgesics to help you manage the pain. For discomfort, you may choose to rest and can also get help from some home remedies like a hot water bag, some hot beverages, etc.

Most of the pregnancy tissue passes out the same day. The uterine lining may take a little longer to shed. Every woman behaves differently to abortion pills. Some may experience bleeding only for 3-4 days while some others may bleed for up to weeks.

When to seek immediate medical aid?

Although, abortion pills when prescribed after a complete and rightful diagnosis are nearly 98% efficient and safe. However, you need to consult your doctor in a case:

  • Bleeding is very heavy. For instance, you are wetting more than a sanitary pad completely in an hour and this continues for more than 3 hours.
  • If the pain becomes unbearable and is not easing down with the prescribed medicines.
  • In case the bleeding does not stop by day 10. It may mean bleeding ranging from the slightest spotting to heavy bleeding.
  • If you experience a fever of more than 100° F and that persists for more than 24-hours.
  • In case of any medical emergency like a woman getting unconscious.

Legal things to know about abortion pills in different countries:

One of the major issues faced by women in availing access to safe abortions is the legal permissions for abortions in their countries.

Abortion rules are framed by each country and all women undergoing abortions in those countries should abide by them. And the main problem is that in many countries, abortions are illegal.

For example, take any of the Middle East countries like the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and others. Abortions in these countries are illegal. Abortions are strictly restricted only for certain conditions like saving the pregnant woman’s life.

Besides being restricted from protecting the woman’s life or in some cases of fetal deformities, another restriction is marriage. And one has to prove that her marriage even if abortion is required as in the aforementioned situations.

Consent for abortion further restricts a woman’s abortion choices. Any girl or woman cannot obtain an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy because she wants it in many countries.

But India has women-friendly or liberal abortion rules. One can obtain an abortion in India

  • As married or as unmarried or as a single woman
  • By only her consent if she is an adult
  • Indian law permits abortions for reasons like a contraceptive failure, rape, incest, etc. for up to 20 weeks. For special cases like fetal anomalies, abortions are legal for up to 24 weeks.

For these reasons, many women residing in Gulf countries, especially Malayali women travel to India. As a part of a short abortion trip, they obtain safe, legal and confidential abortions and return overjoyed to resume normalcy.

Post-abortion care with a medical abortion:

Post-abortion care is mostly similar either a woman undergoes a medical or surgical abortion. However, certain things may vary owing to the difference in procedures and their workings.

Post-abortion recovery is very important for you to heal early and better. And each woman behaves differently in terms of physical, mental as well as emotional health after an abortion.

Since we are speaking of medical abortion here, here is a list of Dos and Don’ts after a medical abortion for better healing.

The Dos and the Don’ts:


In case of bleeding:

You must have a follow-up to ascertain a completed abortion. In case you are bleeding beyond 10 days, do not wait further to have a follow-up appointment scheduled at the earliest.

2 possibilities:

Possibility 1: Completed abortion

In a case of complete abortion, the doctor may prescribe you some medicines for your fluctuating hormones to be back to normal. And also, you may need to take some hematinic for making up for the blood loss.

Possibility 2: Incomplete abortion

In case of an incomplete abortion, the completion may need a small surgery to remove the pregnancy remnants.

In case of pain:

Abdominal cramps and pain with medical abortion are the expected outcomes. And you may find ease with some home remedies and prescribed pain management. But follow up is essential in case of immense cramping and/or pain.

In case of fever:

If you are experiencing fever for more than a day, you need follow-up to rule out infections. The doctor may prescribe you some antibiotics to stop further infection. You can take some prebiotics and probiotics also. They may help both in the efficient absorption of antibiotics and also help in balancing your abdominal and vaginal microflora.

In case you feel pregnant:

Some symptoms of early pregnancy include sore nipples, tender breasts, morning sickness. It is normal to feel these symptoms for quite a couple of days. But if the condition does not improve by a week, you need to follow up.

It may be due to disturbed hormonal balance or if it is accompanied by bleeding also, it can be a case of incomplete abortion.

Healthy diet:

After any sickness, it is important to eat healthy to get back to normal at the earliest. And when the condition is a medical abortion, there is immense blood loss. You definitely need to make up for the same.

The doctor shall prescribe you some supplements also. But there is no substitute for natural and healthy food.

Eat iron-rich foods like leafy greens, eggs, meat, lentils, beans, beets, etc. Also include some dried fruits and nuts like almonds, dried apricots, prunes and figs.

Add tomatoes and other citrus fruits that are rich in Vitamin C. They will help your body fight oxidative stress. If you are vegetarian or vegan, please take some supplements for Vitamin B12.

Take a sunbath for Vitamin D. Or in case it is not possible, you can take its supplement. Ask your doctor when and how to take it for best results.

Avoid eating raw foods. Since your body is getting back to normal, you need to be light on your stomach. Although meat and certain other things may seem heavy foods to you, you can take them in small portions. Abdominal discomfort and bloating are common but you can avoid them with cooked food in small portions.

Avoid excessive starchy food, acidic food, fatty food and even frozen food articles. Wherever possible, eat the local and seasonal fruits. Remember to add fibrous items to your platter to avoid constipation.

A proper diet not only ensures a speedy recovery but also helps in fighting fatigue and strengthening your body systems.


Take enough rest and sleep since your body will heal when in a relaxed state. Don’t stress out yourself. Take a break. Watch your favorite movie. Stay by your loved ones or friends for emotional support.


Avoid any strenuous activity or intensive exercises for a week. You can adopt yoga, breathing exercises and of course, some mild ones to stay relaxed. Also, they will help you in toning up your reproductive system by improving blood circulation.


After a medical abortion, your body is vulnerable to certain pelvic, reproductive and even urinary tract infections. So, change your sanitary napkins regularly. Avoid using tampons and menstrual cups.

Avoid washing your intimate area with soap. But clean it with fresh water at regular intervals. Do not douche.

Also, avoid intercourse until a week. Moreover, remember you can get pregnant very early after you have had an abortion. Once your doctor confirms of a completed abortion, you can ask for an intrauterine contraceptive device.

Complications and risks associated with abortion pills:

Abortion pills are not suitable for all girls and women. Therefore, you should never opt for a self-abortion. Only a registered, qualified and experienced doctor can ascertain whether abortion pills are safe and suitable for you.

Here are a few risks with abortion pills and also a guide into how they are preventable. These are to keep you best informed of all the possibilities.

Incomplete abortion:

The number 1 complication with abortion pills is incomplete abortion. Incomplete abortion means that abortion has taken place but some products of conception are still lying in your womb.

An incomplete abortion can happen to any girl or woman. And, no test or diagnosis can foretell you that your abortion will be complete or incomplete with abortion pills. However, chances of incomplete abortion increase when:

  • abortion pills are used in the advanced stages of pregnancy. Earlier you take abortion pills, lesser are the chances of incomplete abortion.
  • abortion pills dosage is wrong. A doctor ascertains the best dose for women as individual patients considering their medical conditions, body mass index and other analyses.
  • Abortion pills mode of administration is wrong. As told earlier, abortion pills may be administered orally (sublingual or buccal) as well as by vaginal routes. Each woman’s needs are different and the doctor decides it the best.
  • The woman is taking some medicines for any other medical condition that may affect the working of abortion pills. Always tell your doctor what all medicines you are taking at the time of the abortion.

Even when a doctor considers all these things, there are slight some chances of incomplete abortion.

Ectopic pregnancy:

The second complication rather a risk with abortion pills is ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy refers to an extrauterine pregnancy. Extrauterine means outside the uterus. Now, the right location of the pregnancy is in the womb. When an egg gets fertilized by the male sperm, it travels down the fallopian tube and implants itself in the uterine lining.

However, in some cases, the embryo fails to reach the uterus and may remain in the midway, somewhere in the fallopian tube. Or it may somehow pass to the abdominal cavity and start growing. Even in further rare cases, it may reach the cervix and stick to the cervical lining. All these are cases of extrauterine or ectopic pregnancy.

This is a case where pregnancy is nonviable.

How does ectopic pregnancy turn to be a complication with abortion pills?

Now, if abortion pills are administered for an ectopic pregnancy, abortion does not take place. The woman may experience signs and symptoms of abortion due to the effect of Misoprostol. Abdominal cramps, pain and bleeding may be there. But not the abortion. Why?

It is because abortion pills work only on intrauterine pregnancies or normal pregnancies. As mentioned in the working section of abortion pills, we mentioned the role of Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Mifepristone prepares the body for pregnancy termination. And Misoprostol helps in its expulsion with uterine contractions.

But ectopic pregnancy is not in the uterus. So, abortion pills will not work.

So, what will happen?

The embryo wherever it is located may or may not grow further. But if it continues to grow, it may rupture at any time. Now, this is a serious case and needs emergency medical treatment. During the treatment procedure, the doctor performs laparoscopic surgery to remove the pregnancy tissue. The fallopian tube and ovary may also need removal in case of tubal pregnancy.

This is essential to save the woman’s life. Rupture may lead to internal bleeding and hemorrhage which can even be fatal.

How can you prevent the risk of an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy rupture and your reproductive organs and even life can be saved with early detection. As soon as a woman or a girl discovers that she is pregnant, she should visit the doctor and get a transvaginal scan for the length and location of the pregnancy.

If found ectopic, pregnancy termination is possible in the early stage with the help of medicines. This shall save your reproductive organs as well as life.

Besides the location, the length of your pregnancy is also essential to check if you are eligible for medical abortion.


The risk of infections is there with any kind of abortion. Even during menstrual periods, a woman’s body is vulnerable to several bacteria, viruses and fungi. All these are preventable with proper hygiene. The doctor shall also prescribe you some prophylactic antibiotics besides advice on hygiene care.

You should also take some prebiotics and probiotics. When your reproductive tract will have the good bacteria, the bad bacteria shall stay back and cannot make their way in.

With proper care, all infections are preventable.

Things to consider before choosing a medical abortion:

Abortion is not a single decision. The decision to have an abortion is just the beginning. And next comes a lot of things. One such thing is choosing the best method of abortion. It is only a registered medical practitioner who can evaluate a patient’s medical condition to the fullest before prescribing the best method of abortion.

However, the patient’s choice shall be respected. And speaking of the earliest available method of abortion, medical abortion, you should know the following things.

  • Medical abortion may need you to go to the abortion hospital more than once. You may even need to follow up for complete abortion.
  • You can expect to experience bleeding, pain, discomfort and fatigue. It is possible that you may need to take off from work for quite some 3-4 days.
  • You will have to wait for up to a week before you are sure that your abortion is complete and successful.
  • In case of an incomplete abortion, you may need a surgical procedure to complete it.
  • Always, let your doctor know your medical history and if you are taking any medicines. Also, let the doctor learn of allergies if you have any.

After a complete analysis of your pregnancy length, location and your medical condition, if the doctor is sure that you are eligible for abortion pills, it is your choice.

Your abortion options when medical abortion is not a choice for you:

If the doctor does not find abortion pills suitable for you, you can obtain a more efficient abortion by suction method. It is the preferred method of abortion for first-trimester pregnancies. You can even obtain it if you are eligible for medical abortion for its advantages of being painless and more efficient with no waiting period.

In case of painless, gentle care, single-appointment, same-day discharge and 100% successful abortion with minimum bleeding is what you prefer, you may schedule an appointment at American Hospital Bangalore (AHB).

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