What are Termination pills by Nurse Tshepo

The termination pill also known as medical abortion, is an effective and safe way to end an early unplanned pregnancy. It’s important to note that these pills can only be prescribed by a professional healthcare provider. Nurse Tshepo shares more,

What is medical termination?

Medical termination is a procedure that uses medication to end an early pregnancy. It is less invasive meaning that you don’t need to have a procedure done, unlike surgical termination. You can take this medication at home or in another comfortable place that you choose, and you get to decide who you want to be with during the process, or you can go through it alone. 

Who can take the termination pill?

A person is eligible for the termination pill if they are less than 10 weeks pregnant which means that the pill can be used within 70 days (10 weeks) from the first day of your last menstrual period. 

How does it work?

Medical termination is accomplished by using a combination of two pills that work together to terminate a pregnancy. The first pill, stops your ovaries from producing the hormone progesterone, which is needed for sustaining the pregnancy. The second pill is taken 24- 48 hours after the first pill, which causes the cervix to open and assists the uterus in expelling the remains of the pregnancy. 

Are there any side effects?

Some common side effects of the termination pill usually start within 2-24 hours of taking the second pill. These can include;


The first pill causes strong uterine contractions to help pass the pregnancy. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (as prescribed by your healthcare provider) are recommended to help you feel more comfortable as they are pain relievers. It is important to avoid taking aspirin as it can cause more bleeding. 

Vaginal bleeding 

The vaginal bleeding can sometimes be heavier than your normal monthly bleeding and it may also contain some clots and tissue. The use of sanitary pads is recommended so that you can keep track of your bleeding. 

Other side effects that may present include,


  • Nausea 
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness

These side effects also usually present within 24 hours after taking the pill. The vaginal bleeding together with cramping usually means that the medications are working. If these side effects are severe, it could be a sign of something more serious. Although rare, some serious side effects may occur like infection and heavy bleeding. It is important to contact your healthcare provider right away if you’re feeling sick for more than 24 hours after taking the termination pill. 

Before seeking termination services, confirm that the healthcare professional is qualified, and the practice is registered (check the doctor or clinic’s registration numbers, which should be displayed in the healthcare facility. Illegal procedures are likely to be carried out by untrained people, involve risky procedures, and/or take place in locations without access to emergency care.

The termination pill is a safe and effective way to end an unplanned pregnancy within the first 10 weeks, but you’re likely to experience some side effects during the process, like cramps and vaginal bleeding. After you’ve completed the medication regimen, you will need to follow up with your healthcare provider after about 1 to 2 weeks to ensure that there aren’t any issues. 

Tshepo Kabelo is a professional nurse, who holds a honours degree in Nursing Science, Advanced Diploma in Nursing Management, and currently studying towards his Masters in Public Health. He currently works to promote health and well-being within all post graduate institutions in South Africa.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).