Since 2020, the most common way to terminate a pregnancy in the United States is with medications rather than via a surgical procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This trend has further accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing number of restrictions on abortion in many states since the June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Known as a medication abortion, medical abortion, or the abortion pill, the process typically involves a two-drug combination. Mifepristone, which was approved in 2000 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stops pregnancy cells from growing and replicating. This pill is followed one or two days later by misoprostol, a drug that brings on heavy cramping that expels the tissue in the uterus.
Medication abortions “are extremely safe and effective,” says Elisa Wells, MPH, a cofounder of the abortion information website Plan C.
But myths and misconceptions about medication abortions are widespread.
Here are eight incorrect beliefs about the abortion pill, and the accurate facts everyone should know.
Myth 1: A Surgical Procedure Is Required to Terminate a Pregnancy
When we think of abortion, many of us visualize a “surgical” or procedural abortion, which is done in a sterile clinical setting.
A surgical abortion, per MedlinePlus, generally involves dilating the opening of the uterus, known as the cervix, and using suction to remove the fetus and other tissue from the pregnancy. Sedative medication is often used to help a person relax during the procedure. After the procedure, medicines may be given to contract the uterus and stem bleeding, along with an antibiotic to reduce infection risks.
This was once the most popular method of abortions, but in 2020 medication abortions surpassed surgical procedures for the first time, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This represents a significant increase from the group’s prior research, when medical abortions accounted for 39 percent, in 2017.
This trend toward more medical abortions further increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, when surgical procedures were limited or delayed and people began looking for other options.
Myth 2: Medication Abortions Aren’t Super Effective
Medication abortion has proven to be overwhelmingly effective as well as safe during the two decades it has been in use. When the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conducted a comprehensive review of the science of abortion care, it concluded that medication abortions effectively end early pregnancies with extremely low rates of serious complications.
According to Planned Parenthood, the pills are most effective when taken at 8 weeks of pregnancy or earlier. But medication abortion still works more than 90 percent of the time for those 9 to 10 weeks pregnant, and about 87 percent of the time for people up to 11 weeks.
Even when it’s less effective in these later weeks of the first trimester, people can be given an extra pill, and then the abortion is almost always completed, Planned Parenthood says.
Another option in these rare cases is to follow up with an in-clinic surgical procedure to complete the abortion.
Myth 3: Medication Abortions Are Also Called Plan B
Many people confuse the abortion pill with another medication known as Plan B.
Plan B is what is known as emergency contraception. This medicine is taken soon after you’ve had unprotected sex to prevent you from getting pregnant.
Plan B consists of a drugstore pill that contains the hormone levonorgestrel, a synthetic progestin similar to the progesterone the body naturally makes to regulate the menstrual cycle. The hormone inhibits or delays ovulation.
“Plan B can be used within 72 hours of having sex,” says Sherry Ross, MD, a gynecologist and the author of She-ology and She-ology, the She-quel. “It is most effective when taken within 24 hours of having sex,” she notes.
By contrast, abortion pills work by a completely different mechanism, inhibiting the growth of pregnancy tissue rather than delaying ovulation. One prevents a pregnancy, and the other ends it.
Myth 4: You Have to Visit a Doctor in Their Office or Clinic to Get Abortion Pills
Actually, you may not need to.
First, a doctor does not necessarily have to be involved. Many states allow non-physician medical professionals like physician assistants and advanced practice nurses to prescribe the pills. Some states, though, have laws requiring the person administering medication abortion to be a licensed medical doctor.
Second, during the pandemic, a growing number of telehealth medical abortion providers became available in various states. With telehealth abortions, Plan C’s Wells says, “you can have this safe and effective procedure without needing to take time off work, find childcare, and the like.”
Telehealth abortions allow for more privacy, since women don’t have to go to an abortion clinic — or navigate their way past protesters, Wells adds. And in areas of the country that are rural or underserved by providers, telehealth medication abortions can save a patient hundreds of miles of travel, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute.
Plan C lists a number of these telehealth abortion sites that work in various states. They include Hey Jane, Just the Pill, Choix, Forward Midwifery, and Aid Access. You can search which telehealth providers are available in your state on the website of Plan C.
Telehealth abortions were the subject of a study published in August 2021 in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco followed 110 Choix telehealth patients and found 95 percent had complete abortions from the pills. The 5 percent who required further medical care is similar to the rate for in-person medical abortions, the study authors note. And no patients reported any adverse events.
Myth 5: Abortion Pills Need to Be Taken in a Doctor’s Office or Clinic
Women who get the abortion pills after a telehealth consultation or who order it online take the pills in the comfort of their own home.
Even women who go to an office or clinic for a medication abortion generally take pills at home. They might take the first pill, mifepristone, in the medical setting and take the second medication home with them to take later. Or both drugs might be taken after the patient returns home.
Because it takes a while for the medicines to be effective, a medical abortion is nearly always completed in the person’s home or other comfortable location.
Myth 6: You Must Have a Prescription to Get Abortion Pills
That used to be the case, but it isn’t any longer.
For a long time, mifepristone was regulated under a special provision of the FDA that required it to be administered in a clinic, hospital, or under the direct supervision of a certified medical provider, known as the “in-person dispensing requirement.”
This prevented it from being delivered by mail or from being readily available in retail pharmacies.
But during the pandemic the FDA changed this requirement to remove the in-person specification and added a requirement that any dispensing pharmacies must be certified. In December of 2021, it made the changes permanent.
Although the FDA cautions people not to buy the drugs over the internet, “because you will bypass important safeguards designed to protect your health,” many health experts say buying from reputable sites is fine.
The growth of online dispensing pharmacies is allowing a greater number of women to “self-manage” their abortion, Wells says. They simply order abortion pills directly from certain websites, without a healthcare provider prescribing it.
Plan C lists a number of dispensing pharmacies they believe are safe to order from, which varies by the state you live in. These include Secure Abortion Pills, Abortion Privacy, and Medside 24.
Myth 7: Medication Abortions Are Not Covered by Insurance
According to Planned Parenthood, many health insurance plans do, in fact, cover abortions, making the procedure free or low-cost to those with this insurance. (Check with your insurance provider directly to see if your insurance is in this category.) Note that in several states, laws prohibit private insurers from covering abortion.
People on Medicaid may or may not have their abortion pills covered. “Some … plans in certain states cover abortion, while others don’t. Some plans only cover abortion in certain cases,” Planned Parenthood advises.
If your insurance won’t cover the cost of a medical abortion, which can run hundreds of dollars, you may still be able to get assistance. A number of organizations offer funds to help pay for abortions. You can find some of these groups through the National Network of Abortion Funds.
Myth 8: If Abortion Is Not Legal in Your State, You Can’t Get a Medical Abortion
Medication abortions are always legal in states that have not banned or severely restricted abortions.
In states that do have severe abortion restrictions, determining whether a medical abortion is legal can be complex.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, banning medication abortion outright has been found to be unconstitutional. But it notes that other state-level restrictions have been allowed to go into effect.
For example, South Dakota approved regulations that require patients to make four trips to a clinic in order to obtain a medication abortion, although this was blocked pending the outcome of litigation. Other states have banned the use of telehealth abortions.
Abortion advocates say some women are getting around state bans by having the medications mailed to another state where abortion pills are explicitly legal. This can be a friend’s address or a “general delivery” mailbox at a post office in that state, where the person then drives to pick up the pills.
Of course, there is a legal risk of being prosecuted in some states that prohibit medical abortions or the mailing of pills. You can learn more about the possible legal repercussions from the Repro Legal Helpline, a free site designed to educate women about their legal rights in obtaining a desired abortion.
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Why You Should Disclose Your STI Status to Your Partners
In the vibrant city of Kumasi, Ghana, a tale of love, honesty, and courage unfolded. Meet Ama, a compassionate and determined young woman, and Kwame, a kind-hearted and understanding man. Their love story was one that transcended barriers, as they learned the importance of disclosing their STI status to each other.
As their relationship blossomed, Ama found the strength to open up to Kwame about her STI status. She understood that this conversation was crucial for the well-being and trust within their relationship. With a pounding heart and a sense of vulnerability, Ama mustered the courage to disclose her status, unsure of how Kwame would react.
To her relief, Kwame listened attentively, appreciating Ama’s honesty and her courage to share such a sensitive matter. He assured her that he respected her openness and cared deeply for her well-being. Together, they embraced the importance of transparency and understanding in their relationship.
Recognizing the significance of this conversation, Ama and Kwame embarked on a journey of learning and understanding. They sought guidance from healthcare professionals who provided them with accurate information about the specific STI, its transmission, and the necessary precautions to maintain their sexual health.
With newfound knowledge, Ama and Kwame fostered open lines of communication about their sexual health and desires. They acknowledged that disclosing one’s STI status not only promoted trust and respect but also allowed them to make informed decisions about their intimate lives.
Ama and Kwame understood that their journey would involve taking necessary precautions to ensure their sexual health and prevent the transmission of the STI. They diligently followed the guidance provided by healthcare professionals, including the use of barrier methods and regular check-ups.
Their journey was not without challenges, but they faced them together with unwavering support and understanding. Ama and Kwame recognized that their love extended beyond physical intimacy, and their commitment to each other grew stronger through the trials they faced.
Through their experience, Ama and Kwame learned that disclosing one’s STI status is not only an act of responsibility but also an act of love. It fosters an environment of trust, empathy, and support within a relationship. They discovered that honest communication and education were powerful tools that could strengthen their bond and deepen their connection.
As their love story continued to unfold, Ama and Kwame became advocates for sexual health within their community. They shared their experience and knowledge, encouraging others to have open and honest conversations about their sexual health with their partners.
And so, dear reader, the story of Ama and Kwame teaches us that love and honesty go hand in hand. It reminds us of the importance of disclosing our STI status to our partners, as it fosters trust, respect, and responsible decision-making within our relationships. In the vibrant city of Kumasi, Ama and Kwame celebrated their love, empowered by their openness and the unbreakable bond they had formed.
How to Cope With (and Fix) Vaginal Dryness-Naa’s Story
In the serene coastal town of Cape Coast, Ghana, a tale of love and resilience unfolded. Meet Naa, a vibrant and compassionate woman, and Kwame, her devoted partner. Their love story was one of unwavering support and a shared determination to navigate the challenges they faced, including the delicate issue of vaginal dryness.
As time passed, Naa began to experience vaginal dryness, a condition that not only affected her physically but also had an impact on their intimate moments. Sensing Naa’s discomfort, Kwame approached the situation with empathy and a deep desire to find a solution that would allow their love to flourish.
With open hearts and a commitment to their relationship, Naa and Kwame embarked on a journey of understanding and exploration. They recognized that vaginal dryness could be caused by various factors, including hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, and even certain hygiene products.
Together, they sought advice from healthcare professionals who specialized in women’s health. They learned about the various treatment options available, such as lubricants, moisturizers, and hormone therapies. Naa, supported by Kwame’s unwavering presence, sought medical guidance to address any underlying causes contributing to her condition.
In addition to medical interventions, Naa and Kwame discovered the power of open communication. They fostered an environment where discussing their desires, fears, and concerns surrounding intimacy was not only accepted but encouraged. They explored the importance of foreplay, embracing longer periods of arousal and engaging in sensual activities that nurtured their emotional connection.
Naa and Kwame also embarked on a journey of self-discovery. They learned about the power of self-care, embracing practices that nurtured Naa’s overall well-being. They prioritized stress reduction techniques such as meditation, exercise, and engaging in activities they both enjoyed. This allowed Naa to reclaim her sensual identity, free from the pressures that accompanied vaginal dryness.
As they navigated the complexities of vaginal dryness together, Naa and Kwame discovered that their love was not solely defined by physical intimacy. They realized that emotional connection, trust, and open communication were the pillars that held their relationship strong.
Naa and Kwame explored the beauty of intimacy beyond traditional notions. They embraced the power of touch, focusing on sensual massages, extended periods of foreplay, and finding pleasure in exploring new erogenous zones. They learned to be patient with one another, acknowledging that vulnerability and understanding were vital elements in overcoming the challenges they faced.
With time, patience, and a deep commitment to their love, Naa and Kwame found solace in the fact that they were not alone on this journey. They discovered that there is no shame in seeking support or guidance, as they realized that many couples face similar challenges.
And so, dear reader, the story of Naa and Kwame teaches us that love conquers all obstacles. It reminds us that addressing and coping with vaginal dryness requires patience, understanding, and a shared commitment to exploring new avenues of intimacy. In the picturesque town of Cape Coast, Naa and Kwame celebrated their love, embracing the beauty of their connection and the strength they found in facing challenges together.
Prostate Cancer: What It Means for Your Sex Life
In the quiet neighborhood of Osu, nestled in the heart of Accra, Ghana, a love story unfolded, weaving together the delicate strands of devotion, resilience, and the unwavering spirit of two souls. Meet Kofi and Akua, a couple whose love stood tall in the face of adversity as they navigated the impact of prostate cancer on their sex life.
Kofi, a kind-hearted and strong-willed man, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, sending shockwaves through their once blissful existence. Akua, a pillar of strength and unwavering support, stood by his side, ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.
As Kofi embarked on his journey of treatment and recovery, both he and Akua realized that their love was not confined to physical intimacy alone. They understood that their connection ran far deeper, rooted in a bond forged by shared dreams, trust, and unwavering companionship.
In the intimate moments of vulnerability, Kofi and Akua openly discussed the impact of prostate cancer on their sex life. They shed tears, shared fears, and explored the options available to them. They sought advice from medical professionals who specialized in cancer care, learning about the potential side effects of treatment and the strategies to navigate them.
Through their research and candid conversations, Kofi and Akua discovered that prostate cancer treatment might cause changes in sexual function, including erectile dysfunction and decreased libido. Armed with knowledge, they embarked on a journey to find new ways to connect and experience pleasure.
They explored the power of communication and trust, recognizing that open dialogue was key to understanding each other’s needs and desires. They learned to embrace the changes and limitations imposed by the illness, finding solace in the knowledge that love transcends physicality.
Kofi and Akua delved into the realm of intimacy, discovering alternative avenues of pleasure and connection. They explored sensual touch, engaged in passionate kisses, and discovered the beauty of emotional intimacy. They embraced the power of non-sexual acts of love, realizing that affection, understanding, and emotional support were the building blocks of their relationship.
They sought guidance from sexual health professionals who specialized in assisting couples affected by cancer. With their support, Kofi and Akua learned techniques to enhance pleasure, utilizing aids and devices that could bring them closer together.
As their journey unfolded, Kofi and Akua discovered a newfound depth to their love. Their intimate moments became a testament to their resilience, strength, and the power of unwavering support. They found solace in the understanding that love is not defined by physical abilities alone but by the profound emotional connection they shared.
And so, dear reader, the story of Kofi and Akua reminds us that love can triumph over adversity. It teaches us that while prostate cancer may pose challenges to a couple’s sex life, it is an opportunity to explore alternative forms of connection and deepen the bond that holds them together. In the vibrant neighborhood of Osu, Kofi and Akua proved that love is not defined by the presence or absence of physical intimacy, but by the unwavering support and unwavering commitment to stand by each other’s side through life’s trials.