What to Expect
during and after treatment

Remember that each person’s experience is different and the symptoms can vary from person to person.


  • Heavy bleeding and strong cramps start about 1-4 hours after taking the second medicine (misoprostol). Heavy bleeding means the treatment is working. 
  • Bleeding can be very heavy (usually heavier than your period), sometimes with clots (up to the size of a lemon). If you completely soak through 2 maxi pads per hour for at least 2 hours in a row, you are bleeding too much and should seek care. 
  • Heavy bleeding can last for a few hours (usually around 6 hours), but usually not more than 24 hours, then gets lighter. 
  • Use maxi pads so you can tell how much you’re bleeding. You can use tampons when the heavy bleeding lets up.
  • If you see pregnancy tissue (usually white or gray in color), it can be safely flushed down the toilet. You may not see it. The pregnancy is very small. 
  • It’s normal to have bleeding or spotting for a few days or weeks after treatment. It may start and stop a few times. It should get lighter and lighter. 
  • Your period should come back in about 4-8 weeks, but this is different for each person 

Pain & Cramping

Strong cramping is a normal part of the treatment and usually starts a few hours after taking the second medicine (misoprostol). 

Here are some things that can help:

  • Take pain medicine, like ibuprofen (or Tylenol if you’re allergic). You can take ibuprofen 800 mg every 8 hours (or Tylenol every 4-6 hours) as needed
  • Put a hot water bottle or heating pad on your belly
  • Take a shower
  • Sit on the toilet
  • Have someone rub your back
  • Drink warm tea or soup 

You will cramp less and less as the hours and days go by. 

Other common symptoms

  • Fever and chills: are common during the first 24 hours after taking the second medicine (misoprostol). Ibuprofen or Tylenol can help. This should go away within 24 hours.  
  • Headache: ibuprofen or Tylenol can help
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea: this should go away in 1 or 2 days after you take the pills.
  • Feeling tired: you may feel tired for 1 or 2 days. You should be back to normal soon.
  • Breast changes: tenderness should go away within a week. You may leak a milky discharge. Wear a snug-fitting bra if you do. This should stop in a couple days.

When can I go back to my regular activities?

It is safe to go back to your regular activities - school, work, driving, exercise - as soon as you feel up to it. 

  • You can eat normally before, during, and after the treatment. 
  • You can have sex and/or use tampons whenever you are ready. 
  • You can take a shower or bath as soon as you want to. 

You should start to feel better each day after treatment. Please let us know if you don’t.

Sadness or mood changes

You may feel relieved when the abortion is over. You may also feel sad or moody, which is normal and can come from hormonal changes now that you’re no longer pregnant. If you think your emotions are not what they should be, please talk to us. There are also great support text and talklines on our Resources page. 

How do I know if the treatment worked? 

  • You should have cramping and bleeding after taking the second medicine, usually as heavy or heavier than your period (sometimes with clots or tissue)  
  • Your pregnancy symptoms (nausea, breast soreness) should start to go away and disappear within about 1 week after using the pills. This is a good sign that you are no longer pregnant.
  • A pregnancy test will stay positive for about 4 weeks after the treatment (even if you are no longer pregnant), so it’s important not to take one sooner. 

What's the plan for follow-up after my treatment?

We’ll check in with you a few times to make sure the treatment went well, and you can always reach us on Spruce

  • 1 to 2 weeks after after your treatment: we’ll send you a message on Spruce to answer a few questions to confirm your treatment went as planned.  
  • About 4 weeks after your treatment: We’ll send you a reminder on Spruce to take an at-home pregnancy test and send us the results. Remember not to take a pregnancy test til at least 4 weeks after your treatment (it can stay positive for this long even if you are no longer pregnant).

In the rare event that the treatment does not work, the abortion must be completed, since misoprostol has a small risk of birth defects. You may be able to take another round of medicines or you will need to get an in-clinic procedural abortion.

We will make sure you get the care you need.

When should I start birth control?

You can become pregnant again almost immediately after using the abortion pills. For this reason, it is recommended to use condoms or another form of birth control if you don’t want to get pregnant. 

  • You can get condoms, female condoms, sponges, and spermicide at your drugstore. 
  • If you have unprotected sex or the condom breaks, you can use emergency contraception (EC), also known as the morning-after pill (Plan B). EC can help stop you from getting pregnant if taken within 3 days of unprotected sex. You can get EC from the drugstore or from a healthcare facility. 
  • If you want to start birth control, your Hey Jane provider can discuss your options and send a prescription for you, if you choose. If so, your provider will go over when you should start it.
  • Click here for info on different birth control options