TELEHEALTH MEDICATION ABORTION VISITS – “PILLS BY MAIL” OR “PICKUP”
PRIVACY, COMFORT, AND CONVENIENCE
Would accessing abortion care without actually going into a health center be the best option for you? If you qualify, HealthQ offers medication abortion via a telehealth appointment with the option for you to get your pills by “mail” (our suppliers use FedEx) or picking them up in one of our health centers (in Beverly, Haverhill or Lawrence).
How Do You Qualify?
- Must be under 9 weeks, 4 days pregnant at the time of the appointment and confirmed pregnancy with a positive pregnancy test
- Must be 16 years or older
- Have a Massachusetts mailing address
- Be in Massachusetts during your video appointment
- Have a smartphone or computer with a working camera and microphone for a video chat appointment
- Have the ability to open web links on a smartphone or computer to fill out electronic consent forms
- A person who gets regular menstrual periods and is certain about the first day of your last menstrual period
- Pass a health screening during appointment scheduling
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH TELEHEALTH MEDICATION ABORTION
Medication abortion is a safe and effective procedure in which two different medicines are taken to end a pregnancy. The first medication (mifepristone) blocks the hormones necessary for a pregnancy to grow; this ends the pregnancy. The second medication (misoprostol) makes your uterus contract and empty; this is similar to a miscarriage. The abortion happens in the privacy of your home over the course of a few days.
Telehealth medication abortion is available up to 9 weeks 3 days (66 days) from the first day of your last period. To start the process you’ll have an appointment with a HealthQ clinician via telehealth (a video call on your phone or computer). At the end of your appointment your clinician will order a package to be priority shipped to you (for delivery in 1 to 3 days) or prepared for you to pick up at one of our health centers. You’ll receive your medications and have your abortion experience at “home” and 7-14 days later have a follow-up appointment via telehealth, or in-clinic if you prefer, to confirm you are no longer pregnant.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ABORTION PILL AND THE MORNING-AFTER PILL?
Emergency Contraception, “the morning-after pill”, (Plan B, Ella, My Choice, AfterPill, etc.) may prevent pregnancy, but it will not terminate a pregnancy. Emergency contraception can reduce the risk of pregnancy for up to five days after unprotected sex. The sooner you take it, the more effective it will be.
Medication Abortion (the “Abortion Pill”), is two medications that work together to end a pregnancy that is already growing/developing.
YOUR FIRST VISIT
IN THE COMFORT AND PRIVACY OF YOUR HOME
The second medication, misoprostol, is taken 12-48 hours later (these pills are usually placed in between your cheek and gum for 30 minutes or placed in the vagina). Misoprostol causes cramping and bleeding, which empties your uterus and helps you pass the pregnancy through the vagina. The cramping and bleeding can last up to several hours, so we recommend planning ahead to make sure you can rest, use a heating pad, and take an over-the-counter pain reliever. For most people, the process takes around 5 hours, but it can take up to 12 hours for some. The medication abortion process feels similar to an early miscarriage. It’s normal to have cramping and bleeding and to pass clots and tissue, like a heavy period. You may also have an upset stomach, diarrhea, dizziness, and a mild fever. You might also have mild cramping for a few days after, but it normally isn’t enough to prevent people from going back to work or school.
YOUR FOLLOW UP APPOINTMENT
The last step is a follow-up appointment with our nurse practitioner 7-14 days later to check that the abortion is complete, that you are healthy, and to talk about birth control options, if you wish.
Enter the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) to see whether you are within 9 weeks 3 days and eligible for telehealth medication abortion. If you are between 9 weeks 4 days – 11 weeks pregnant, medication abortion is an option, but you will need an in person office visit. If you are more than 11 weeks pregnant, we encourage you to read about our in-clinic abortion procedure, which is available during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Enter the first day of your last period to see your options.
Caring About Your Safety and Health, Always
One of our providers is always available if you are having complications or have questions. After health center hours and on weekends they are available via an answering service.
Please call us immediately at (978) 927-9824 if you are experiencing one of the following conditions:
- Heavy bleeding, for example, 2 maxi pads in 2 hours
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, weakness, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, with or without fever, more than 24 hours after taking misoprostol
- Fever of 100.4°F or higher that lasts for more than 4 hours within several days of taking the first medication
What You Should Know Before Your Telehealth Visit
- Register to use the Patient Portal if not already enrolled, confirm access.
- Complete all required paperwork and payment on Patient Portal at least 1 hour before appointment time. If you miss this deadline you’ll have to be rescheduled to a different time or different day.
- If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, call or text us at (978) 927-9824 as soon as possible so we can give your appointment slot to another patient. If you are more than 10 minutes late, we will try to fit you in but may have to reschedule your appointment.
- Have your valid government-issued photo ID (such as a license or passport) ready to show the staff.
- Prepare to be in a quiet space with good internet connection where you can hear well and take notes if you’d like.
- Do not take any drugs or alcohol that may impair your ability to consent to an abortion 24 hours prior to coming to your appointment.
- Do not take aspirin 7 days prior to your abortion.
- It’s helpful to already have a supply of maxi pads (not tampons, menstrual cups, or panty-liners) and pain medicine like Ibuprofen, Advil, or Motrin (not aspirin) at home. Some people like to have a heating pad to help with cramps.
- If you have any questions, please call or text us at (978) 927-9824.
Contact Us For More Information
We believe that every person should have medically accurate information about all pregnancy options and the freedom to decide whether, when, and how to create a family. If you decide to have an abortion, our role is to support you in your decision and to provide you with the highest quality medical care. Please call us to schedule an appointment or talk to one of our trained staff about available options and any questions or concerns you may have.