Management of side effects and complications in medical abortion

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Aug;183(2 Suppl):S65-75. doi: 10.1067/mob.2000.107946.


Side effects are an expected part of medical abortion; some, such as pain and bleeding, result from the abortion process itself and are generally managed with orally administered analgesics and counseling. True medication side effects most commonly include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and warmth or chills. Complications of medical abortion usually represent an extreme or severe side effect. Large series have reported transfusion rates of <1%. Because of the infrequency of uterine instrumentation, postabortal endometritis appears to be rare with medical abortion. As with early surgical abortion, the clinician must remain aware of the possibility for ectopic pregnancy. Overall approximately 2% to 10% of patients will require surgical intervention for control of bleeding, resolution of incomplete expulsion, or termination of a continuing pregnancy. Understanding the types of side effects and complications that can occur will enable the clinician to counsel patients properly as well as to understand when medical intervention is necessary during the medical abortion process.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents / adverse effects*
  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Abortion, Induced / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obstetric Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy


  • Abortifacient Agents