Are There Risks to Taking the RU486 Pill?

Finding out you are unexpectedly pregnant is scary, and a flurry of questions flood your thoughts. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, it is common to feel as though your world is crashing down around you.

You have tough decisions to make, ranging from where to turn for the help you need and whether or not you will continue your pregnancy. It is critical to thoroughly explore all pregnancy options available to you, which usually include parenting, adoption, and abortion, depending on how far along you are. As you gather facts about abortion, it is important to understand each procedure as well as its risks.

If it has been ten weeks or less since your last period, medical abortion might be an option for you. In this article, we will answer the question, “Are there risks to taking the RU-486 pill?” In short, all procedures and medications come with side effects and risks, including the RU-486 pill. Read on to learn more about medical abortion, RU-486, and potential risks.

What You Should Know About Medical Abortion

The RU-486 pill, also called mifepristone, is used for medical abortions, and it is one of the two medications used together that end pregnancies at home without surgery or anesthesia. The two drugs used in medical abortions are mifepristone (RU-486) and misoprostol. They can be used up to ten weeks of pregnancy.

During a medical abortion, you typically take the first medication, RU-486 (mifepristone), in a healthcare setting. Mifepristone blocks progesterone, which is required for the embryo to stay attached to the uterine lining.

Approximately 24–48 hours after taking the first set of pills, you will take the second medication, misoprostol, at home. That produces contractions (heavy cramps) to expel the pregnancy from your uterus.

Contractions and bleeding usually begin 2–4 hours after taking the second medication. It can take several hours for your body to expel the pregnancy. During that time, you can anticipate to:

  • See large clots – the size of a lemon
  • Feel nauseated or experience vomiting
  • Have diarrhea
  • Have a low-grade fever and chills
  • See the expelled fetus if you are more than eight weeks pregnant

The abortion itself can take as long as several days to occur and is usually followed by up to three weeks of bleeding or spotting. If you were given antibiotics, it is critical that you take them all as directed and return to your doctor or clinic for a follow-up visit two weeks later. At this appointment, the doctor can verify that the pregnancy was ended and make sure there are no other medical complications such as an incomplete abortion or infection.

After a medical abortion, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding (soaking two or more pads per hour or more than 12 hours in a row)
  • Passing blood clots larger than the size of a lemon for more than two hours
  • Severe abdominal or back pain
  • A fever of 100.4 or higher
  • Vomiting for more than 6 hours
  • Diarrhea for more than 24 hours
  • Vaginal discharge that smells bad

Risks Associated With RU-486

As we discussed above, all medications have risks, and there are possible risks to taking the RU 486 pill as well, including:

  • Incomplete abortion – An incomplete abortion means the pregnancy is still in place and did not respond to the drugs. Heavy bleeding, hemorrhage, a drop in blood pressure, and anemia could happen as a result. If this happens, a surgical abortion is required because of the failure to complete the abortion medically. If you do not follow-up with a surgical abortion, the pregnancy could continue.
  • Damage to the uterus – Rupturing or tearing of the uterus has been reported when the RU-486 pill has been used after the eighth week of pregnancy. This damage can cause severe bleeding, death, or require a hysterectomy.
  • Infection and septic shock – The risks of infection and septic shock are potentially life-threatening after a medical abortion. Sepsis is a medical emergency that occurs when an infection enters your bloodstream. The most common causes of septic shock after medical abortion are pregnancy tissue remaining in the uterus and uterine infection.
  • Severe pain – The misoprostol medication used in combination with RU-486 causes uterine cramping to expel the pregnancy, which can cause severe pain. The majority of women experience this pain.

Can I Take RU-486?  

Your healthcare provider is the only one who can tell you if you can take RU-486 after examining you. Yet, Mayo Clinic discusses several situations where you cannot take RU-486 for a medical abortion, including if:

  1. Your pregnancy is too far along. If your last period was more than ten weeks ago, you cannot take RU-486.
  •  You have an intrauterine device (IUD) still in place.
  • You have a pregnancy outside of your uterus (ectopic pregnancy).
  • You have certain medical conditions, including bleeding disorders, heart or blood vessel diseases, severe liver, kidney, lung disease, or an uncontrolled seizure disorder.
  • You take a blood thinner or steroid medications.
  • You do not have access to follow-up care or emergency care.
  • You have an allergy to the medications used.

If you are not a candidate for taking RU-486, your healthcare provider may recommend a surgical abortion instead.

Visit Us for a No-Cost Pregnancy Test

At Willow Womens Center, we understand how difficult it is to face an unplanned pregnancy. Our compassionate advocates and licensed medical professionals are here to help you through this time in your life.

At our clinic, we can offer you a no-cost, medical-grade pregnancy test to confirm your at-home results and a no-cost ultrasound, so you will know how far along you are and if your pregnancy is viable. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening may also be offered at no cost. This is an important part of the appointment, especially if you are considering an abortion.

We believe in supporting you, empowering you, giving you the critical information you need, and answering your questions. We want to make sure you have everything you need to make the best decision for you and your future.

Let us be your first step. We invite you to make an appointment today to see us. Your health and well-being come first.