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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the side effects of medical abortion and how long do they last?

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  • Children by Choice is a Brisbane based not-for-profit organisation providing pro-choice, all-options counselling, information and referrals Queensland-wide, for women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. We provide face-to … View Profile

    Medication or medical abortion is the use of drugs to end an early pregnancy, up to 9 weeks gestation.

    Medical abortion is highly effective: Its 92–95% success rate is comparable to that of surgical abortion. It is also safe, as severe complications are extremely rare ( Medication Abortion Restrictions Burden Women and Providers—and Threaten U.S. Trend Toward Very Early Abortion, Heather D. Boonstra (Guttmacher Policy Review, Winter 2013, Volume 16, Number 1)

    Side effects, such as pain, cramping, and vaginal bleeding, result from the abortion process itself and are therefore expected with a medical abortion. Other side effects of the medications themselves may include nausea, vomiting, diarrheoa, chills or fever. On average women may expect to have bleeding and/or spotting for nine to sixteen days.

    Complications are rare but may include excessive vaginal bleeding requiring transfusion (occurs in approximately one in five hundred cases), incomplete abortion or ongoing pregnancy which requires a suction abortion.

    This information is intended as a guide only and womens experiences will vary. It should be noted that the procedure may vary at individual clinics, depending on the management and health care practices adopted by the medical director/s. If you have any questions or want more detail, speak to the clinic you are considering attending for information about side effects.

    If you decide that abortion could be an option for you, it may be helpful to have as much information as possible to assist you in making this decision. For information on the clinic procedure, costs, clinic locations, what happens on the day, and how you might feel afterwards, visit

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