Ryan Center FAQs

The Abortion Pill

What is the abortion pill?

The abortion pill (also called Mifeprex, Mifepristone, or RU-486) provides women with a medical alternative to surgical abortion. This option uses medication only (no instruments).

What are the advantages of the abortion pill?

You can feel confident in knowing that medication abortion with the abortion pill is 97% effective. The primary advantage of the abortion pill lies in the ability to end the pregnancy in the privacy of the patient’s own home. You will follow up within 1-2 weeks with the health care provider after your abortion to confirm that it worked and that you are well.

How does the abortion pill work?

The Abortion Pill procedure involves the oral ingestion of mifepristone after ultrasound verification of a pregnancy 9 weeks or less. The Abortion pill works by blocking the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and the pregnancy cannot continue. 24 to 36 hours later, misoprostol—which causes the uterus to empty—is inserted into the cheeks, or vaginally. In most cases, a miscarriage occurs within 24-36 hours.

What are the results and side effects?

If the abortion does not occur with medication alone, a surgical abortion will be performed or additional pills will be administered at no additional cost.

Side effects of mifepristone and misoprostol can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heavy vaginal bleeding, headache, dizziness, backache, and fatigue. Occasionally, the cramping may become quite severe, particularly when the tissue is being expelled.

First- and Second-Trimester Surgical Abortion

What options are there for surgical abortions?

There are two kinds of in-clinic abortion procedures. The most common is called vacuum aspiration, also referred to as a dilation and curettage, or "D&C." A D&C is performed if the woman is less than 14 weeks (3.5 months) along. Dilation and evacuation, or "D&E," is another kind of in-clinic abortion that occurs less commonly, since a D&E is performed when the woman is greater than 14 weeks (4.5 months) along.

Learn more: download our Abortion Services Brochure (PDF).

Emergency Contraception

What is emergency contraception (EC)?

Emergency Contraception, or EC, is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after sex. EC pills contain the same medication as regular birth control pills.

There are two basic types of Emergency Contraception:

  • Plan B® (progestin-only pills)
  • Ella (ulipristal acetate)

How long after unprotected sex can you take emergency contraception?

It is best to take EC within 24 hours of having unprotected sex. Plan B may work up to three days after sex, and Ella may work up to five days after sex, but both are more effective if taken earlier. Don’t delay!

Over 95% of the women who take EC do not become pregnant.

How does EC work?

EC helps prevent pregnancy by:

  • Temporarily stopping eggs from being released,
  • Stopping fertilization, or
  • Stopping a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb.

What DOESN’T EC do?

  • EC WILL NOT cause an abortion (EC is NOT the same as RU-486, the abortion pill).
  • EC WILL NOT disrupt a developing fetus or affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant in the future.
  • EC WILL NOT prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV/AIDS.
  • EC IS NOT effective as a routine method of contraception.

When should I take EC?

Take EC as soon as possible after unprotected sex, up to 3 days after.

Consider using EC if you had sex and:

  • You didn’t use birth control
  • The condom broke
  • You were late for your birth control shot
  • You missed two or more birth control pills in a row or started your pack late
  • You were forced to have sex

How can I get EC if I need it?

  • EC is available over the counter at your local pharmacy.
  • EC is available online from Planned Parenthood of Chicago: ec4u.org

If you need EC and are having trouble getting it, or if you have questions about EC or any other contraceptive method, please contact the Ryan Center Clinic at 773-834-9995.

Is the "morning-after" pill the same as emergency contraception (EC)?

Yes, the "morning-after" pill and EC are the same thing. The term "emergency contraception" is preferred, because this method of preventing pregnancy can be used several days after unprotected sex, not just the "morning after."

What if I am late in taking the second dose of EC?

It is recommended that you take the second dose 12 hours after the first dose. Taking the second dose a little early or late (two hours early or late, for example) will probably not make a difference in how effective the pills are, but we really do not know for sure.