I promised I'd plaster a positive medical abortion (abortion pill) experience all over the internet
My positive medical abortion story
I promised the universe I that if I had a positive experience with medical abortion (abortion pill) I would plaster it all over the internet as there seem to be five horror stories to every positive story out there. I get it - people are much more inclined to write about something negative as it has more of an impact on them. I know everyone has a very different experience, but I hope I can offer some tips that I feel helped me through it.
Reasons my abortion was easy
A few reasons I think the process was easy for me:
- it was early, 5 weeks
- I was prepared since I have sat with two friends during the process years ago
- I had opioid pain medications (not provided for this procedure, from something else - more on this to come).
Why did I choose medical? Money is not an issue for me, so it was all about which experience I felt would be easier/less unpleasant. At the Planned Parenthood I went to, medical and surgical cost the same, $550 [read more abortion stories and stories about medical abortion, surgical abortion, abortion at 5 weeks and abortion at Planned Parenthood].
Since it was very early on, and the idea of getting shots into my cervix freaked me out, I opted to do it at home with my boyfriend, cats, and other comforts.
Anxiety was the worst part of the abortion
The worst part by far for me was the anxiety. Reading all the horror stories online, then wanting to pass out in PP waiting area before my appointment, and cried several times the day of the abortion (not because I was unsure of my decision but because I was scared).
The best tool I had to calm myself down was by thinking about terrible things other people endure - chemo, surgery, painful diseases, abuse, loss of loved ones - I am lucky to be a healthy woman who lives in a country, and during a time, where I can legally make this choice about my body.
Abortion is very safe, safer than childbirth. A few hours of cramps is nothing compared to other things people live through every day.
Day of, I acted as if I was preparing for something intensely physical like running a half marathon or climbing a mountain. I drank like tons of water, ate healthy filling meals, moved a lot, etc. no idea if this helped at all but it can't hurt I guess.
I also planned nothing, NOTHING, for that evening. My boyfriend and I are chronic advance planners, what we are going to eat, do, watch on tv, workout, etc. Instead, we just did what we felt that evening.
I wasn’t sure if I would be able to eat or focus on tv or reading. So I lit candles, put on music, and just tried to relax. It was weirdly peaceful. Fortunately, I could eat dinner and watch tv.
30 min prior to taking Misoprostol, I ate a rice cake to get something in my stomach, took 800mg of ibuprofen (4 OTC tabs), 500mg of acetaminophen (1 extra strength Tylenol), one 5mg/325mg hydrocodone/acetaminophen (aka Vicodin), and 4mg of ondansetron (prescription anti-nausea).
Bleeding started an hour after taking misoprostol
I started bleeding a little an hour after finishing misoprostol, then had some clotting after 2 hrs.
I found that pacing around the house (I got like 7000 steps that evening) was more comfortable than sitting or lying. When I got tired of walking around, I sat on the edge of my couch bent over a heating pad.
The only other side effects I had were chills (about two hours in I was shaking and my teeth chattered for a few seconds) my boyfriend started a fire in the fireplace and it stopped.
Also, oddly enough, the Misoprostol tabs (I took them buccally) left me with a sore throat and a little bit of a hoarse voice.
I saw it pass - a very small sack of tissue
The worst my pain/cramping ever got was like a 2/10. Pretty sure I saw when it passed – a very small sack of tissue with what looked like a blood vessel hanging from it. I was weirded mesmerized by it and stared at it for a couple minutes.
I bled heavily for 4 days
Over the 24 hours following, I bled through three overnight pads. I bled what I would consider heavily for four days, then had "normal period bleeding" for 4 more days (total of 8 days).
I was very nervous about how much I would bleed since I was leaving the country on a flight 36 hours after the process. Also, there is a lot of misinformation out there about what you can and cannot do in the days following.
My provider at PP assured me I could swim on vacation, wear tampons, drink alcohol, etc. Basically, there isn’t anything you cant do…. it *may* be advisable to use pads for 24-48 hours to more easily monitor how much you bleed, and avoid alcohol the day of as it thins the blood, but that’s about it.
Pain management wasn't discussed at length
The only thing that upset me about the experience is that pain management wasn’t really discussed at length at my appointment.
I think I was told "take ibuprofen if you need it" (which is the standard of care, per the medical guidelines, so I don’t fault the provider). Or, maybe because I told the provider at PP that I am a pharmacist and she assumed I knew what to do?
They also said that THC can be helpful for some people (I live in a legal marijuana state) and asked if I wanted to be part of a study where THC tabs would be provided. Hellz nah. THC and me are not friends, it makes my anxiety worse.
I felt it was imperative to pre-medicate
I feel that for me it was imperative to pre-medicate. Also, many women may not know that it’s ok to take that large of a dose of ibuprofen since the bottle usually says to take 400mg.
After 3 hours of my first round of pain meds, I took 600mg more of ibuprofen (3 tabs) and 2.5mg of oxycodone (one-half of a 5mg tab, this is less strong than the 5mg of Vicodin I pre-medicated with).
I did tell the provider this when I had my follow up ultra-sound two weeks later, that I really felt the Vicodin/oxycodone gave me peace of mind and made the experience less scary, and asked if I could have gotten a prescription had I asked (or had let her know I was very afraid of the pain).
She said it's no longer the standard of care to give opioids (used to be, which I remember from when I was with my friend 14 years ago) because studies show ibuprofen works just as well BUT had I asked, she would have given me a prescription for two Tylenol #3s. I recommend this, if available.
I worked from home the following day, although I could have gone in.
Prepping may help things go smoother
Happy to answer any questions – this experience can be very different from woman to woman, but I think there are a few things you can do to prep for the experience that may help things go smoother.