The abortion pill is rapidly becoming the most common abortion method used today. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with potential side effects and risk factors associated with this regimen.

One important thing to note: if you have taken the abortion pill regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol, you may be at risk of an incomplete abortion.

What exactly is an incomplete abortion?

An incomplete abortion is the partial loss of the products of conception.1 If you are experiencing partial loss of the products of conception it does not mean you are still pregnant. Rather, it means that some of the pregnancy tissue remains inside your uterus. This is a serious condition requiring you to seek immediate medical intervention.

What are the symptoms of incomplete abortion?

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding (soaking more than two pads an hour for two hours)

  • Lower abdominal pain that can radiate through your lower back and pelvic region
  • Cramping
  • Passing blood clots and/or pieces of tissue [1,6]

When should I seek medical attention?

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

How is incomplete abortion treated?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the most common treatment for this condition is a repeat dose of misoprostol. Depending on the doctor’s recommendations and the patient’s request, other methods such as uterine aspiration or expectant management may be considered instead. [2] 

Let’s break these down in more detail.

  • Repeat dose of misoprostol
    • According to Guttmacher Institute, treatment of incomplete abortion using a repeated dose of misoprostol is 99% effective at emptying the patient’s uterus if the pregnancy is 12 or fewer weeks. [3]
  • Uterine aspiration
    • Uterine aspiration (also called suction or vacuum aspiration) is a medical procedure in which the cervix is dilated (opened) and the doctor uses a suction device to empty the patient’s uterus. [4]
  • Expectant management
    • This treatment option involves waiting and allowing the patient’s uterus to empty its contents spontaneously. However, this method is not typically recommended due to low efficacy (lower success rates) and because the timeline for such events to occur can be unpredictable. [5]

How common is this condition?

According to research reported by Charlotte Lozier Institute, surgery for an incomplete abortion is required 3.4-7.9% of the time following an attempted chemical (medical) abortion. Therefore, it is very important that you monitor your symptoms and watch for signs of this dangerous condition.

If you have taken the abortion pill regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol and find yourself experiencing troublesome symptoms, go to your nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Incomplete abortion, though rare, is a serious condition requiring you to seek immediate medical attention.

Where can I get support after an abortion?

At Harmony Women’s Care we offer post-abortion support. If you have had an abortion and want to talk through any concerns or need help processing your experience, schedule an appointment to come see us.

Our trained and compassionate staff will offer you information, resources, and support with no judgment and at no cost. You are not alone.



[2]Medication Abortion Up to 70 Days of Gestation | ACOG



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