Medical abortion is a safe and effective method of terminating a pregnancy up to 9 weeks (63 days) gestation. It is a method of abortion that uses medication rather than surgery to terminate an early pregnancy. If you are up to 9 weeks (63 days) pregnant, you may consider a medical (non-surgical) abortion.
Medical abortion is a two-stage process. The first stage involves taking a tablet which blocks the hormone necessary for the pregnancy to continue.
This is followed 24-48 hours later by a second medication which causes the contents of the uterus to be expelled.
Overall, medical termination is a low risk non-surgical option for early termination with a high success rate, up to 98%.
Medical abortion is available at our clinics through a face-to-face consultation or, if you cannot get to a clinic, you may be eligible for a medical abortion by phone (tele-abortion).
Medical abortion process
You will also be able to drive yourself home after the appointment; however, you are more than welcome to bring a support person with you.
We recommend you give yourself a day or two to recover from a medical abortion.
- Photo identification. This must be presented. However, if you are under 18-years-old and don’t have photo identification you must bring your Birth Certificate instead
- Medicare card. If you don’t have one you will pay a higher fee. Call Medicare on 13 20 11 beforehand to see if you are eligible for a card
- Concession, Healthcare or Pension card if you have one
- Any notes, reports or ultrasound scans given to you by your doctor. In WA you also need a doctor’s letter/referral stating that you have discussed your decision to have an abortion
- Any medication you are currently taking, including inhalers
- Cash, EFTPOS or credit card for payment on the day. Visa, MasterCard or AMEX accepted.
Once you have completed the necessary administration requirements, you will have a consultation with a nurse or doctor, including an ultrasound to assess the gestation of the pregnancy. If you are sure of your decision, the nurse or doctor will provide you with full information regarding the process. They will discuss your medical history and will also discuss various contraceptive methods available for future use.
The first medication will usually be administered at this appointment and you will be given a second medication to take home with you. A small number of women experience bleeding between Stage 1 and Stage 2.
24-48 hours after your appointment, you take the second medication at a time that suits you best, within this time period. You can expect some bleeding and cramping to begin within 1 – 4 hours, for most women.
Significant cramping generally only occurs within the first 24 hours. You may take pain relief medications such as ibuprofen (as the manufacturer recommends) or as prescribed by the doctor during this time.
The bleeding and cramps should diminish once the pregnancy is expelled, and mild bleeding can continue for 1-2 weeks. Most women report the bleeding and cramping to be more than their average period.
Most women require no further medication; however, if no bleeding has occurred within 24 hours after the second tablets, you may be required to return to the clinic for a second dose.
If at any time you are concerned about the amount of bleeding or pain you are experiencing, Marie Stopes provides a free 24-hour aftercare service staffed by registered nurses.
There is a 2-7% chance that fragments of tissue or clot may remain in the uterus, which may cause heavy or prolonged bleeding. This is known as an incomplete abortion and prolonged or heavy bleeding or cramping can indicate this may be the case.
If this is the case, you may need more medication or, if symptoms are not settling, a surgical procedure at our clinic, provided to you at no cost. If you do experience any of the above symptoms, call our aftercare nurses on 1300 003 707.
Medical abortion prices
Prices are based on the minimum cost for each procedure for patients holding a valid Medicare card. Further discounts apply for Healthcare Card holders in many cases. Visit the prices page to understand the factors that influence cost, or contact us to get an exact price based on your personal circumstances.
Medical abortion in clinic
Medical abortion: your questions answered
- Your doctor determines that your pregnancy is too advanced to proceed (over 9 weeks for medical abortion, over 8 weeks for tele-abortion)
- You have a known or suspected ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy growing outside the uterus)
- You have a known or suspected hypo-coagulation disease (a bleeding disorder)
- You are taking anticoagulants (drugs that prevent or treat blood clots), have a known or suspected hypocoagulation disease (a bleeding disorder)
- You suffer from severe disease where it is necessary to take corticosteroids (medicines such as prednisolone and cortisone)
- You have adrenal failure
- You have an allergy to either mifepristone and/or misoprostol or prostaglandins
- You have an IUD in place (this must be removed before the abortion)
- If you are breastfeeding, please discuss this with your doctor.
If a medical abortion is suitable for you, you will be booked in for a consultation with the nurse and doctor and you will have an ultrasound scan to confirm your gestation.
When you book in for a medical abortion there is always a chance that after your initial assessment, you may decide with the doctor that a surgical abortion is more appropriate for you. In this instance, it will be necessary to make another appointment.
If you have had previous pregnancies, including caesarean sections, or if you have an abnormality of the uterus or another medical condition, you may still be able to have a medical termination of pregnancy.
Read more about medical abortion via teleconsultation by following the link. Alternatively, call us on 1300 003 707 or enquire online if you would like to discuss this option with one of our client service advisors.
- Bleeding lasts on average 10 to 16 days and it is usual for bleeding to be heavier than a normal period for 2 to 3 days
- Light bleeding can continue for 30 days or more. It does not normally continue after the first period after your treatment
- Side effects of the medication can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and chills or fever but these are usually mild and short lived
- Excessive bleeding severe enough to require a blood transfusion occurs in around 1 in 1,000 cases.
Contact our aftercare service if:
- You are soaking more than 2 maxi pads per hour for more than 2 hours
- You have severe cramps or pain uncontrolled by pain medication
- You have fever, chills, severe pain or other side effects which continue more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol
- You have any concerns after taking the medication.
If bleeding does not occur, some patients may require a repeat dose of misoprostol, or another method of termination may be suggested. You should contact your doctor as soon as possible if bleeding does not occur within 24 hours.
Your period should resume 4 to 6 weeks following the medical treatment. Please remember that even if you have not had your period, an egg will still be released, so it is possible for you to fall pregnant again before your next period.
- Use heat packs on your abdomen or back
- Massage your lower abdomen (uterine massage)
- Take pain relief medications as directed by your nurse or doctor. Do not take aspirin.
Abdominal pain should ease within 24 hours of the expulsion of the pregnancy. Call our 24-hour aftercare nurses or your own doctor if:
- Abdominal pain does not improve
- Abdominal pain improves and then worsens
- You are feeling at all unwell, sick or weak with or without a fever.
These signs may mean you have an infection which may require treatment with antibiotics.
Serious infections are rare following a medical termination but can be potentially life threatening. If you experience any of the warnings signs described here you should contact us without delay.