Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

MS-2 Step (medical abortion medicine)

7-minute read

If you have taken MS-2 Step and you have heavy vaginal bleeding (filling more than 2 pads an hour for 2 hours in a row), seek urgent medical care, or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Key facts

  • MS-2 Step includes mifepristone and misoprostol and is taken for a medical abortion.
  • MS-2 Step can be used for the termination of pregnancy up to 63 days after your last menstrual period.
  • Mifepristone stops the pregnancy from continuing. Misoprostol causes the muscles of the uterus to contract and helps to open the cervix and push out the contents of the uterus.
  • Pregnancies rarely continue after MS-2 Step, but sometimes you may need surgery if medical abortion has not worked.

What is MS-2 Step?

MS-2 Step is the name of the product used for medical abortion. It can be used for the termination of pregnancy up to 63 days after your last menstrual period.

MS-2 Step has 2 medicines: mifepristone and misoprostol. Both medicines need to be taken as directed.

Mifepristone blocks progesterone from having its effect. This leads to your pregnancy ending.

Misoprostol makes the muscle in the uterus contract and the cervix open. This helps push out the contents of the uterus.

When can I take MS-2 Step?

MS-2 Step is approved in Australia for medical abortion if your pregnancy is up to 63 days from the start of your last period.

You should not take MS-2 Step if you:

Tell your doctor about any other medicines you take including any supplements you buy without a prescription.

How do I take MS-2 Step?

To take MS-2 Step:

  • Step 1 — Take one mifepristone tablet by swallowing it with a glass of water. It should be taken on an empty stomach 2 hours before or 2 hours after a meal.
  • Step 2 — Take 4 misoprostol tablets at the same time, 36 to 48 hours after the mifepristone. Hold the 4 tablets in your mouth between the cheek and gum for 30 minutes before swallowing any tablet fragments with water. They should be taken on an empty stomach — 2 hours before or 2 hours after a meal.

If you forget to take the step 2 tablets (misoprostol) and it is more than 48 hours after you have taken step 1 (mifepristone), contact your doctor immediately.

What can I expect after taking MS-2 Step?

Step 1. After taking mifepristone it is likely that you will be able to continue with your normal activities. Vaginal bleeding usually starts 1 to 2 days after taking the mifepristone tablet.

Step 2. After taking the misoprostol tablets, you should stay at home and rest for 3 hours. Vaginal bleeding will occur usually within 4 hours and can range from light to heavy — it is usually more than your usual period. Vaginal bleeding lasts on average for 10 – 16 days, although it may last up to 6 weeks. If bleeding does NOT occur, contact your doctor straight away.

Cramping and pain may also occur and can be mild to severe.

You should stay within a 2-hour drive of a hospital for 14 days after starting MS-2 Step in case you have heavy bleeding or complications.

Does taking MS-2 Step have any side effects or risks?

Like all medicines, MS-2 Step can have side effects. These are usually minor and temporary and can include:

Complications and risks associated with medical abortion are rare but include:

  • problem bleeding
  • infections
  • incomplete abortion
  • continuing pregnancy

When should I see my doctor?

If you have taken MS-2 Step and you have heavy vaginal bleeding (filling more than 2 pads an hour for 2 hours in a row), seek urgent medical care, or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

You should see a doctor urgently if you:

  • have heavy bleeding filling more than 2 pads an hour, for 2 hours in a row
  • have large clots the size of your fist
  • have severe pain
  • feel weak or have nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea more than 24 hours after taking the misoprostol
  • have fevers or chills that are ongoing or more than 38 degrees
  • have smelly or abnormal vaginal discharge

You should arrange a follow-up appointment with your healthcare practitioner 14 to 21 days after your first dose of MS-2 Step to ensure that the termination was complete.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

What should I do if it doesn’t work?

If treatment with MS-2 Step doesn’t work, your healthcare practitioner can arrange another method to help terminate your pregnancy.

You doctor will discuss the options that are best for your situation.

How do I get access to MS-2 Step?

Trained healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses and midwives, can prescribe MS-2 Step. Any pharmacy can sell you MS-2 Step with a prescription.

Depending on your location, you can find a service and health professional near you by contacting:

How much does MS-2 Step cost?

MS-2 Step is listed on the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS). This means that the Federal Government pays for part of this medicine. For the latest information on how much this medication may cost you, visit the PBS website.

Resources and support

Australia has safe and supportive abortion and family planning clinics that give advice. To find these clinics in your state or territory visit:

You can also discuss your options with your doctor, or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to speak with a nurse for information and support.

  • If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, Family Planning NSW has a booklet about pregnancy options.
  • Children by Choice offers information about accessing abortion in community languages.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Medical abortion information

Medical abortion is when you take medications to end a pregnancy

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Abortion - surgical and medical options

An abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy. If you decide to have an abortion, there are 2 options – surgical or medical.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Abortion procedures - medication - Better Health Channel

Mifepristone, also called RU486 or the 'abortion pill', is used to terminate (end) a pregnancy up to nine weeks.

Read more on Better Health Channel website


There are many reasons someone might choose to terminate a pregnancy. Counselling can help you understand your options. Learn about the process.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Unplanned Pregnancy

Read this article to learn more about unplanned pregnancy and what your options are. Unplanned pregnancy means becoming pregnant when you weren’t planning it.

Read more on Rahma Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.