What is medication abortion?

There are two kinds of abortion available in BC: aspiration abortion (sometimes called surgical abortion) and medication abortion (sometimes called medical abortion). Both kinds of abortion are very safe, and the rate of complications is less than 1%. Abortion has no effect on future fertility unless there is a very rare complication.

Medication abortion is a process that involves taking medications to end a pregnancy. The first medication stops the pregnancy and the second medication causes the body to push out the contents of the uterus. The process occurs over a few days.

When is it done?

In early pregnancy (first trimester), usually up to 9 weeks.

How many appointments does it take?

Usually two appointments.

How much does it cost?

Cost covered by a Care Card (provincial medical coverage in BC), although there may be a small fee for pain medications. It is about $700 for those without a Care Card.

Is there pain or discomfort?

Typically, there is cramping (which tends to be stronger than period cramps, and stronger than with an aspiration abortion) for a few hours. Medications are available to help. Milder cramps may continue for some time afterward.

How much bleeding is there?

Typically, bleeding is heavier than a person’s period.

What are the side effects?

Many people will have flu-like symptoms for up to 24 hours, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, fever or chills.

Do I need to take time off from work/school/etc.?

Yes, you may need to take time off for appointments and typically for 2 days when you take the second medication.

Will people know that I have had an abortion?

No, but it may be can be difficult to hide the process (which looks like a miscarriage) from those you are living or staying with.

What happens after an abortion?

  • It is important to follow the instructions given to you by your abortion provider. Some clinics may tell you to schedule a follow-up appointment.
  • Fertility returns very quickly after an abortion, so your abortion or regular health care provider can help you to find a birth control method that works for you.
  • After an abortion, you may have a variety of feelings, including relief and sadness. There are many services that provide emotional support after an abortion. If you need support you can ask your abortion provider or contact Sex Sense at 1-800-739-7367 or sexsense.org for resources

How can I find abortion services in BC?

What services are available will depend on where you live. You can ask your family doctor, local Options for Sexual Health Clinic, or Sex Sense for information on abortion services in your area. We also have some information listed on our abortion providers page.

Please note that some organizations that offer pregnancy options counselling, information or decision-making support are pregnancy crisis centers, anti-abortion organizations that spread misinformation about abortion and pressure people into continuing pregnancies. It can sometimes be quite difficult to know if an organization is a crisis pregnancy center. For pro-choice, nonjudgmental services that support all pregnancy options, please contact Sex Sense.

Questions? We’re here for you!

We are here to help.
You can visit one of our Options for Sexual Health Clinics to speak with a health care provider. Our Sex Sense Team is available Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. by phone 1-800-739-7367 or by email at SexSense.org to answer your questions about birth control, or any other questions about sex, sexuality, or sexual health. This fact sheet contains general information and should not be used in place of individual consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

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