When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, some people might consider a home abortion. Online sources cite abortion home remedies that they claim are safe and effective.
For example, some suggest consuming various fruits, herbs, or supplements in excessive quantities. Others recommend intense exercise or inserting implements through the cervix to the uterus to induce abortion.
None of these options is a good idea. Some are merely ineffective, while others could potentially lead to disability or death.
In this article, we discuss the risks of home abortions, which range from toxicity to life threatening infection. We also detail the alternative options available to those wishing to safely end a pregnancy.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that secured a person’s constitutional right to an abortion.
This means that individual states are now able to decide their own abortion laws. As a result, many states will ban or severely restrict abortion access.
The information in this article was accurate and up to date at the time of publication, but the facts may have changed since. Anyone looking to learn more about their legal rights can message the Repro Legal Helpline via a secure online form or call 844-868-2812.
Some abortion home remedies, such as drinking certain teas, may seem relatively safe. However, consuming everyday herbs in excessive amounts could potentially lead to toxicity. Some remedies can be fatal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 13,865–38,940 people lose their lives every year due to unsafe abortions.
It states that it is possible to prevent almost all of these deaths through access to safe abortion, sex education, and family planning.
Potential risks of home remedies include:
An incomplete abortion
An incomplete abortion is one that was not fully successful. It occurs when the pregnancy ends, but some fetal tissue remains in the body.
It is necessary to seek immediate medical treatment for an incomplete abortion to avoid significant blood loss and the potential for severe infection. An incomplete abortion can even be fatal. However, a person may not know the abortion is incomplete until they develop severe symptoms, such as bleeding.
Taking herbal remedies or abortion pills purchased from unreputable online sources can have serious consequences.
Even natural remedies can be toxic, especially when people consume them in large amounts.
When people eat toxic amounts of something, the liver comes under pressure to filter the toxins from the body. In severe cases, this can result in liver damage or liver failure.
Some websites claim to sell abortion pills, but many of these pills are not genuine. In some cases, they could be harmful. Products from other countries can contain contaminants from heavy metals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other authorities do not monitor these products, which means the public is not protected.
Hemorrhaging is major blood loss. While all surgeries, including surgical abortions, carry the risk of heavy bleeding, an abortion performed by an unqualified person increases that risk significantly.
Internal bleeding is life threatening and may go unnoticed until it is too late to stop it.
Infection and scarring
There is a risk of infection and internal scarring with surgical abortions, but this risk increases dramatically with at-home surgical abortions.
Inserting anything through the cervix to the uterus is extremely dangerous, as it can cause infection and scarring. Both these outcomes
There is a safer alternative to home remedies for those who want to terminate their pregnancy at home.
A doctor can prescribe medication for a person to take at home. This is known as a medical abortion. This option has become
Typically, a medical abortion involves taking two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, at different times. Mifepristone causes hormonal changes that allow the pregnancy to end, while misoprostol causes the uterus to contract and expel the uterine lining.
Medical abortion has a success rate of
Medical abortions may be an option for people who are 10–12 weeks pregnant or less, depending on local laws.
The WHO also recommends medical abortion for people over 12 weeks pregnant. However, these abortions should take place in a medical facility and a medical practitioner should perform them.
It is important to note that it is against the law to induce an abortion in many countries and some U.S. states.
Doctors perform surgical abortions in situations where medical abortion is not an option.
During a surgical abortion, also known as dilation and curettage (D&C), a surgeon will remove the fetus using suction and a sharp tool called a curet.
In many areas, surgical abortions are an option after 12 weeks of pregnancy. After this time, other options for terminating the pregnancy diminish. However, a doctor will typically only perform a surgical abortion if the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the birthing person, or if there are issues with the fetus’s development.
People seeking an abortion should talk with their doctor or midwife about how they feel about continuing the pregnancy.
Legal surgical abortions are relatively safe and effective. In rare cases, a D&C can cause scarring of the uterine wall, which is called Asherman’s syndrome. Endometrial infections and other factors may also cause Asherman’s syndrome.
Asherman’s syndrome may make it more difficult to get pregnant again or increase the risk of miscarriage in future pregnancies.
People who have attempted a home abortion using a home remedy or those who have side effects from an at-home medical abortion should seek medical help. They must get urgent attention if they have:
- excessive bleeding
- fever or chills
- jaundice, which refers to yellow skin or eyes
- loss of consciousness
- sweaty, cold skin
- other severe, persistent, or concerning symptoms
The affected person should tell their doctor what caused the symptoms. Giving as much information as possible will help the doctor to treat the issue correctly and promptly, as well as offer care and support.
People living in the U.S. who require more information on accessing abortion or on alternative options can get help from the following organizations:
- Planned Parenthood: Information on options and access to low cost abortion services.
- The National Network of Abortion Funds: Financial assistance when seeking an abortion.
- Aid Access: Online consultation and safe mail order abortion pills.
Outside the U.S., people may wish to contact Marie Stopes International for information on local laws and available services worldwide or Women Help Women for information about organizations in several countries.
Recovery time from a medical or surgical abortion may depend on the method.
According to Planned Parenthood, recovery from an in-clinic abortion may take a couple of weeks. During this time, a person may experience some cramps and vaginal bleeding or spotting. Sometimes, the bleeding can last for several weeks.
Anyone with bleeding that is bright red, soaks more than one menstrual pad in an hour, or continues for longer than 2 weeks must contact a doctor.
The medications that lead to a medical abortion may cause nausea and other short-term effects. Anesthetics or sedatives a doctor administers during a surgical abortion may also cause nausea or other side effects.
After either type of abortion, a doctor will advise that a person wait until the bleeding ends before having sex to reduce the risk of infection. In the case of complications, some people may need to wait longer.
A person should avoid using tampons during recovery from a medical abortion and use only pads.
People can take ibuprofen to alleviate pain. Heating pads may also be helpful for cramps.
A person should contact their doctor or the clinic if they experience:
- heavy bleeding
- smelly discharge
- other signs of infection
It is also vital to deal with emotional distress that may arise following an abortion. Abortions affect everyone differently, and all emotional responses are valid. If required, a doctor or abortion clinic can provide contact details for therapists who offer post-abortion counseling.
Abortion home remedies, such as teas and herbs, come with risks and side effects, including toxicity and death.
A person looking to end a pregnancy should instead rely on approved methods for abortion. These may include a medical abortion using pills or a surgical abortion performed by a qualified medical professional.
If a person experiences serious side effects such as heavy bleeding, fever, or other concerning symptoms following an abortion or after using an abortion home remedy, they should seek immediate medical attention.