Frequently Asked Questions

Answering Your Questions

At carafem, we believe health care should be easy to understand, easy to access, and centered around you and your needs. We value you, your time, and your preferences, so we’ve built the carafem experience to be compassionate, convenient, and centered around you. If you are looking for abortion, birth control, or testing, we’re here to help.

 Abortion Pill FAQ  |  Abortion Procedure FAQ  |  Birth Control FAQ  |  Other Questions

Abortion Pill Questions

Please see our locations page for specific price information about the abortion pill, and call us any time if you need to discuss financing options. (855) SAY-CARA

It is important that you take time to think through all your options. There are many ways to address an unintended pregnancy, but you determine your own best path based on your circumstances. We are here to provide information, answer questions, and offer unconditional respect to help you find your way. Once you are confident that the abortion pill is right for you:

Be sure that you are pregnant and within the 11 week window for the abortion pill, or within the 13 week window for the carafem Procedure. You can take a pregnancy test, use our pregnancy calculator, and come in for an ultrasound to confirm.

Emergency contraception (the morning after pill or Plan B) is a type of birth control, not an abortion. The morning after pill is taken to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy does not happen right after sex. It can take up to six days for the sperm and egg to meet. Emergency contraception works in a number of ways to prevent pregnancy, but will not terminate an existing pregnancy, no matter the dosage. Please call us if you have any questions.

Start-to-finish, most appointments are around 60 minutes or less.We ask that you bring: the names of any medications you are taking, your form of payment including an insurance card and a photo ID. Many people also like to bring a supportive person or friend. They can be with you throughout your visit.

At your visit, you will meet privately with a clinician who will review your medical history, take a blood test, and an ultrasound. You will then talk about what to expect and how to take the medications. You will then take your first dose of medication in the center and leave with your second dose to take later, at home where you will have the abortion. You will be equipped with a lot of resources for the following days.

The abortion pill is actually a combination of what is usually two kinds of pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) that are taken in sequence.  In the U.S. these are most often used before 11 weeks of pregnancy. The first pill, mifepristone, blocks a hormone necessary for a pregnancy to continue to develop. Most people swallow this first pill in our office. A small number of people see some vaginal bleeding after taking mifepristone, but it’s not common. The second pill, misoprostol, causes cramping and bleeding from the vagina so that the pregnancy will leave your body (similar to a miscarriage). It is usually taken at home within 72 hours after taking the first pill. Most people start to see cramping and bleeding within about an hour after taking the misoprostol, though some take longer. It’s normal to feel chills, nausea, or even have diarrhea along with bleeding and cramping while your body is pushing the pregnancy from your uterus. It’s kind of like having a really heavy, crampy period along with mild flu-like symptoms. It is good to have some thick overnight type maxi pads ready along with a heating pad to help with cramping. carafem provides anti-nausea and pain medication to help handle these symptoms. For most people, the heaviest bleeding and cramping ends once the pregnancy has passed, usually within 3-4 hours. It is important to plan for possible vaginal bleeding to continue after any type of abortion. Some see light bleeding that lasts up until their next period starts, which is usually within about 4-6 weeks.

First of all, thank you for being there for this person! It’s wonderful that you want to be available and caring for them. Here are some great resources on how to be a good support person:

      1. 6 Ways to Support a Friend Who is Considering an Abortion
      2. How to Help a Friend Through an Abortion
      3. 8 Things NOT To Say To Someone After Abortion
      4. Especially for Men

Very effective! About 98% of clients have a successful abortion when using the pill. Our staff will stay in contact with you throughout the process until we are sure that your abortion is successful and you are well.

Very safe! It has been used by hundreds of thousands of people in the US since the year 2000 and millions of people worldwide for over 20 years. There are no indications that the abortion pill affects a person’s ability to have a baby when they are ready — neither getting pregnant nor staying pregnant in the future are affected by using the abortion pill. Our staff will review any possible risks and complications with you during your visit.

This is a highly personal decision. Both the abortion pill and the carafem procedure are very safe and effective. Many people feel that the abortion pill is more private because the actual abortion takes place at home.

Advantages:

      • The abortion pill can be used in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
      • It requires no surgery or anesthesia (and less time in a medical environment).
      • It has the potential for greater privacy.
      • It allows for more control over your body.
      • It is less invasive and may feel more natural.

Disadvantages:

      • The biggest disadvantage for many is that you are still pregnant when you leave our center. Taking the abortion pill requires two steps to be successful and it takes between 24 and 72 hours for most users.
      • It often involves heavier bleeding and more intense cramps.
      • The pill option is only available up to 11 weeks after your missed period. If you are further along than this, the pill is not for you — but there are other options.

The big question that everyone wants to know is, does an abortion hurt? We wish we could give you a definitive answer but the truth is that having an abortion feels different for everybody — just like how periods are different for everybody. It can be painful or just a little uncomfortable. Everyone reacts differently. Thousands of people have successfully used this method of abortion for the last 20 years. Your carafem health care team can help you to feel prepared to better handle this experience.For most people, medication abortion physically feels like having an early miscarriage or a heavy period with mild flu-like symptoms. You could have cramping and aches in your belly, heavy bleeding with large blood clots, an upset stomach or vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, tiredness, and mild fever (99-100° F) or chills on the day you take the misoprostol. If you don’t have any bleeding within 24 hours after taking the second medicine, call your health center to check in about what to do next. Some people respond well after an additional dose of misoprostol. If at any time you have very heavy bleeding or have flu-like symptoms that are getting worse instead of better after 24 hours, call your doctor or health center right away. Don’t worry, carafem will provide pain medication and anti-nausea medication to help you to manage these effects of an abortion with medication.

Mentally, people can have a range of emotions after having an abortion. Most people feel relief, but sometimes people feel sad. You might have a mixture of many emotions. This is totally normal and there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel. If your mood keeps you from doing the things you usually do each day, it’s okay to call a healthcare provider for help. There are also many organizations that provide confidential emotional support, like All-Options and if you’d like to talk to or text someone about your personal abortion experience.

The big question that everyone wants to know is, does an abortion hurt? We wish we could give you a definitive answer but the truth is that having an abortion feels different for everybody — just like how periods are different for everybody. It can be painful or just a little uncomfortable. Everyone reacts differently. Thousands of people have successfully used this method of abortion for the last 20 years. Your carafem health care team can help you to feel prepared to better handle this experience.

For most people, medication abortion physically feels like having an early miscarriage or a heavy period with mild flu-like symptoms. You could have cramping and aches in your belly, heavy bleeding with large blood clots, an upset stomach or vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, tiredness, and mild fever (99-100° F) or chills on the day you take the misoprostol. If you don’t have any bleeding within 24 hours after taking the second medicine, call your health center to check in about what to do next. Some people respond well after an additional dose of misoprostol. If at any time you have very heavy bleeding or have flu-like symptoms that are getting worse instead of better after 24 hours, call your doctor or health center right away. Don’t worry, carafem will provide pain medication and anti-nausea medication to help you to manage these effects of an abortion with medication.

carafem welcomes patients of all ages. Depending on the state and local laws, you may be required to notify a parent or legal guardian if you are under a certain age. We can help you with this process. Let us know when you call!

We recommend that teens involve a trusted adult in their decision to have an abortion whenever possible. We are happy to help you tell your parents if you’d like us to. Be aware that states vary on the legal requirements of when a parent must be involved.

Overall, your experience will remain confidential with only a few limitations: our staff is required to share the results of some positive tests with state health departments and are required to involve the proper authorities if we feel your life/health may be endangered. Your safety is our top priority.

Yes. We will help verify whether your policy covers our services, and we can also help you file private insurance. Please contact us 24 hours before your appointment to determine coverage. If you do not have medical insurance, you will be offered the opportunity to apply for discounts on the cost of service.

We may be able to take medicaid but it depends on your state. Please contact one of our locations to find out if medicaid is accepted.

Research has proven that most people can become pregnant again within as little as 2 weeks after taking the abortion pill. Our staff can help you make a birth control plan for your future.

carafem will provide you with detailed instructions when you come in for your visit. You can either let the pills dissolve in your cheeks or you can insert them into your vagina. We will discuss the benefits of each with you during your appointment.

First, it is important to understand that having an abortion with medication is a process, and everyone’s body reacts differently. It takes time for the uterus to empty and for the abortion to be complete. Cramping means that your uterus is contracting, and is actually a good sign that the medication is working. It is normal for the bleeding and clotting to continue for 1 to 3 weeks or even longer. If you know you had bleeding and passed some blood clots, that is a good indication that the medicine is working. Relief from symptoms of pregnancy is a good sign as well. An abortion with medications is very effective and fails less in less than 2% of all case but in order to know for sure the abortion is complete, you can return to our office for a follow up visit. You can also take a home pregnancy test, but it’s good to remember a urine test will often still show a positive result for several weeks. It is suggested that you wait for at least 3 weeks before taking a home pregnancy test.

We are available night and day, all days of the week, by telephone. If necessary, we can always make arrangements to see you and get you the care you need. Our staff is trained to answer any question you may have. And there are no dumb questions.

We are always here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

You will want to plan some time to focus on taking care of yourself after taking the second medication. This means that you should take some time off of work or take a break from watching your kids, or avoid doing anything strenuous for about 24 hours after taking the 2nd medication. We would suggest, if at all possible, having a friend or trusted person with you to take care of any responsibilities in your house or with your family until you feel completely better.

After your abortion, your uterus needs time to return to its pre-pregnancy size and shape and this can take several weeks. Research has shown that most people can become pregnant again within as little as two weeks after taking the abortion pill, so we recommend starting birth control as soon as possible.

You should also be aware that your hormone levels have been affected by this process. After your abortion, you will still have the pregnancy hormone, hcG, in your system so you may be feeling a variety of emotions. Many people have said that they were feeling up and down, or felt emotions that they weren’t anticipating. This is actually normal and you’ll feel like yourself again in a couple weeks.

As soon as you feel up to it, you can return to normal activities– going to work or school, etc. Some people feel like they can do this right away and others may need to rest and relax for a day or two. Everybody is different, so do what feels most comfortable for you. Please refrain from any strenuous activities like heavy exercise, lifting, etc. while you are still bleeding. Your body needs time to heal.

Most people can expect their period in 4-6 weeks after taking the abortion pill. Remember, you are able to become pregnant again in as little as 1-2 weeks after taking the abortion pill, even before you get your next period. We will discuss birth control options while you are at carafem so you can plan ahead and feel prepared when you are ready to have sex again.

Abortion Procedure Questions

The carafem procedure, (sometimes called ” MVA,” “aspiration abortion,” or “surgical abortion”) is a safe and simple method of ending an early pregnancy in our office with a gentle and quiet hand-held suction device.

The carafem procedure is not available at all of our health centers. Please see our locations page to determine if it is offered near you.

The carafem procedure costs $550 – 700 depending on location. This includes a pregnancy test, ultrasound, blood work, and contraceptive counseling, as well as the abortion itself.

The carafem procedure is gentle, noninvasive and provided by highly trained physicians. Still, most clients do experience a few minutes of strong cramping. This is not something to be afraid of — we will provide you with medication and relaxation techniques to manage the discomfort. Our staff has helped many clients and will strive to make this experience as comfortable as possible. We make sure to give you time to ask questions and to feel confident that you are ready and prepared for your abortion experience.

The carafem procedure is extremely safe – in fact, it’s one of the safest medical procedures in existence. The risk of complications is extremely low, and any complications that do arise are generally easy to resolve. There is no need for a surgical suite, IV drugs or surgical instruments, and since there is also no need to be put to sleep, there are no risks related to anesthesia. The carafem procedure is safer than having your wisdom teeth removed.

The carafem procedure is so quick and easy that it doesn’t require heavy painkillers – meaning that following a 10 minute (approximate) recovery time, you can return to most of your normal activities, including heading home or back to work, by yourself.

Your appointment should take around 90 minutes, start to finish. The carafem procedure itself takes as little as two minutes to complete.

Every insurance plan is different, but we’re always happy to work with you in obtaining coverage when possible. In certain states, we are able to accept medicaid as well.

Yes. The out-of-pocket cost of the carafem procedure is $550 – 700 depending on location. We do everything possible to help low-income clients get financial assistance to access our services, and we are happy to help you file for insurance or determine if we may be able to accept medicaid.

Birth Control Questions

At carafem, we only offer methods of birth control that are extremely safe, effective, and fully reversible so they’ll have no impact on your body’s natural ability to become pregnant when you want to. Many types of birth control contain estrogen, progesterone or both — hormones that naturally exist in all bodies, so they’re not foreign substances.

Some types of birth control that carafem does not offer, such as tubal ligation, are designed to be permanent, but most methods available today (such as IUD, pills, patch, implant, ring, condoms, etc) will not affect your ability to get pregnant in the future, and many people are able to get pregnant right away after stopping consistent use of their birth control method.

For more information, please check out this link from Bedsider.

Laws vary by state when it comes to birth control age restriction, and carafem abides by all state and federal laws. In both Maryland and Georgia, where our  health centers are located, all minors are allowed to get a prescription for birth control without a parent’s permission. While we do suggest discussing sex and contraception with your parent or guardian, we are happy to work with your needs. If you are under 18, please call us to discuss your options, and indicate that you are a minor and if you would like your health records to be kept confidential from your parent or guardian: (855) SAY-CARA

Luckily, there are also birth control methods available over the counter (no doctor’s exam or prescription needed) at most drugstores and even grocery stores. Condoms are among the most easily-accessible methods of birth control, as well as the only method that can prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when used properly. Even if you use a form of birth control such as the pill or IUD, it’s important to also use condoms in order to be protected from STIs. 

At carafem, we work hard to reduce the cost of our birth control methods. We also take insurance. If you have insurance, your birth control costs may very well be covered under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Depending on your state, we may also be able to accept medicaid. Give us a call at (855) SAY-CARA to discuss your options. 

Weight gain can happen for many reasons, and many are quick to unfairly blame their birth control. While most people don’t gain weight with the birth control shot, some do — and it’s the only method of birth control that has been found to have any connection to weight gain.

If you’d like to avoid any possibility of an added few pounds, the copper IUD is an extremely effective form of birth control that last up to 10 years and is totally HORMONE-FREE!

You can get pregnant very quickly once you stop taking birth control or have an IUD or implant removed, and all of the methods of contraception provided at carafem are fully reversible — so you’ll return to your normal fertility level shortly after you stop using your method.

Bedsider sums it up here: “Let’s look, for example, at how long it takes for people to get pregnant when they quit the Pill compared to when they quit non-hormonal fertility awareness methods (FAM, sometimes called natural family planning). A big study of over 2,000 people who quit the Pill after using it for an average of seven years found that 21% were pregnant in one month and 79% were pregnant in a year. People who stopped using FAM had very similar rates of pregnancy, with 20-25% pregnant in one month and 80% pregnant in a year. In other words, people who quit the Pill get pregnant just as fast as other people, even if they’ve used the Pill for years.”

Other Questions

We offer convenient appointment times, including evenings and weekends. Please contact us online or at (855) SAY-CARA to learn more.

Si, hablamos español. Por favor llámenos si tiene preguntas.

Give carafem a call. We are happy to answer any and all of your questions.(855) SAY CARA