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Pain in Medical Abortion

Pain in Medical Abortion: Understanding the Experience and Managing Discomfort

Medical abortion, also known as medication abortion or non-surgical abortion, is a safe and effective method to terminate a pregnancy in its early stages. It involves using a combination of medications, typically Mifepristone and Misoprostol, to induce the termination. While medical abortion is generally well-tolerated, it is common for women to experience some level of pain or discomfort during the process. In this article, we will discuss the types of pain that may occur during medical abortion, techniques for managing pain, and when to seek medical assistance.

Types of Pain in Medical Abortion:

  1. Abdominal Cramping: The most common type of pain experienced during a medical abortion is abdominal cramping. This pain is similar to menstrual cramps and is caused by the uterus contracting to expel the pregnancy. The intensity of cramping can vary from mild to severe and may last for several hours.
  2. Back Pain: Some women may also experience lower back pain during a medical abortion. This can be due to the uterus contracting and the ligaments stretching, causing discomfort in the lower back region.
  3. Nausea and Vomiting: While not directly related to pain, it is essential to mention that nausea and vomiting can be side effects of the medications used in medical abortion. These symptoms can contribute to a general feeling of discomfort.

Techniques for Managing Pain:

  1. Use Pain Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate cramping and discomfort. It’s best to consult a healthcare professional regarding the appropriate dosage and duration of taking these medications.
  2. Apply Heat: Placing a heating pad or hot water bottle on the lower abdomen can help relax the uterine muscles and relieve cramping. Be sure to use a low or medium heat setting and avoid falling asleep with the heating pad.
  3. Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or other relaxation techniques can help manage pain and reduce anxiety during a medical abortion. Focusing on slow, controlled breathing can help distract from the discomfort and provide a sense of calm.
  4. Rest and Hydrate: Taking it easy and getting plenty of rest during the abortion process can help manage pain and promote healing. Additionally, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can alleviate some discomfort.

When to Seek Medical Assistance:

While mild to moderate pain is expected during a medical abortion, severe or persistent pain may indicate a complication that requires medical attention. Contact a healthcare professional if:

  • The pain is severe and not relieved with over-the-counter pain medications.
  • The pain persisted for several days and is not getting better.
  • You experience heavy bleeding (soaking through more than two pads per hour) or prolonged bleeding (lasting longer than two weeks).
  • You have a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C) or are experiencing chills.
  • Do you have any concerns or questions about your symptoms?

It is important to remember that every individual’s pain threshold and experience may vary. While the discomfort during a medical abortion can be challenging, the process is typically safe and successful. Remember to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance throughout the medical abortion journey.


Dr. Kopp Kallner. M.D. in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Columbia University Medical School.

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