Medication Abortion

Mifegymiso –  the abortion pill –  is now available at Kensington Clinic up to 9 weeks


If your pregnancy is  between 6 and 9 weeks (63 days), counting from the first day of your last normal menstrual period, you may wish to consider a  medication abortion rather than an aspiration procedure. For a  detailed comparison of medical and aspiration abortion read Comparison of Early Abortion.

Medication abortion is done using a combination of medications, together called Mifegymiso. All assessments including ultrasound and lab work (blood test for Rh type) are done on the day of your appointment so you do not have to go anywhere other than Kensington Clinic for evaluation of your pregnancy to receive this medication.  For your convenience, the medication is provided to you at the clinic free of charge if you have Alberta Health Care Insurance. If you are a new resident to Alberta and have applied for Alberta Healthcare Insurance you may also qualify for free medication with proof of your application.

Before you receive the medication you will receive an ultrasound to confirm you are no more than 9 weeks (63 days) pregnant. If you are eligible for a medication abortion, you will meet with our counsellor to discuss the procedure in detail. You will then meet with the physician who will take your medical history and start the treatment.  It is essential that you are able to return to the clinic for a follow-up ultrasound or go to a laboratory for a blood test that will determine if the abortion is complete. You must also be willing to have a uterine aspiration procedure (D&C) if the medication fails to end the pregnancy, as there is some evidence that the medications can cause fetal damage.

Day 1: You will take the first medication, mifepristone, in the clinic. Mifepristone will destabilize the lining of your uterus and end the pregnancy. Once you take this medication these effects are not reversible. You will be given the misoprostol tablets to take home with you along with other medications to help you with possible side effects. You will be given an appointment to return to the clinic for an ultrasound in 14-21 days or a requisition to have a laboratory test to determine if your pregnancy has ended in.

Day 2-3: You will insert the misoprostol tablets into your vagina or into the cheeks of your mouth. You may choose the time of day you take the misoprostol, but be aware that you will start to bleed within 1-4 hours. As you can expect to have heavy bleeding and strong cramping you should choose a time when you are able to stay home for the rest of the day. The bleeding and cramping may continue for several hours. After that, lighter bleeding may continue off and on for 1-2 weeks or more.

Follow-up: The doctor will make a plan with you to confirm the abortion is complete, then no further treatment or appointments are necessary. There is a 2% failure rate with these medications and if they have failed to induce an abortion it is recommended you return for a uterine aspiration to complete the procedure as the medications are known to cause fetal damage.

Side Effects: Most women will need pain medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol to help with the pain associated with medication abortion. Heavy bleeding resulting in soaking 1-2 large pads every hour may occur for several hours. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, headaches and fatigue are common side effects of the medications. Some women will find these side effects can be intense. If you are unsure you are can manage these symptoms at home, you should choose an aspiration abortion instead.

Medication Abortion vs Aspiration Abortion

There are pros and cons to each type of procedure. You are at home for a medication abortion so this may seem more private or feel more natural to you. As well, you can choose to have someone with you or you can be alone if you prefer. You also avoid shots, anaesthesia or instruments in your body.

On the other hand, an aspiration abortion is over in a few minutes, can be done later in the pregnancy and medical staff are with you during the abortion. However, the provider will put instruments inside the uterus and you will be given anaesthetics and other pain medications which may cause side effects. You must have someone to drive you home as you will be legally impaired by the medications.

Although there is bleeding and cramping with both aspiration and medication abortions, bleeding and cramping will be more intense and of greater duration with a medication abortion. Please consider carefully which type of procedure best suits you. Our staff will be happy to assist you and answer your questions and concerns before you make your appointment. However, if you book for a medication abortion and change your mind and decide you would prefer an aspiration abortion when you get to the clinic, you will have to rebook an appointment on another day.