illustrated person standing outside thinking about ending their pregnancy
Illustration by Irene Lee

If you are experiencing an unwanted pregnancy, you have options. If you want to, you can legally end your pregnancy.

This is still true, even after the United States Supreme Court voted in June 2022 to overturn Roe vs. Wade — the 1973 case that guaranteed the legal right to abortion.

However, in the wake of Roe‘s fall, many social media users concerned about increased restrictions around legal abortion have shared “advice” on how to self-manage your own.

Many people point out that self-managing an abortion via approved medication is safe, effective, and legal nationwide, but many other alleged “abortion home remedies” are under-researched.

They may be useless and life threatening.

Some of the common abortion home remedies are listed.

  • Black cohosh, pennyroyal, mugwort, and parsley are some of the herbs and teas.
  • Physical exercises.
  • Self-injury.
  • Birth control pills, vitamins C, and caffeine are over the counter.
  • Criminalized drugs and alcohol.

You can learn more about why attempting abortion via these home remedies can be harmful, and how to access safe alternatives, no matter where you live.

Self-managed abortion isn’t inherently unsafe

The FDA has approved medication that can be used to manage an abortion. Studies show that abortion pills are a safe and effective way to end pregnancies.

Some people attempt unsafe methods of self-managed abortion because of social stigma, lack of awareness, and fear of legal repercussions.

Learn more about medication abortion here, and learn more about self-managing a safe medication abortion at home here.

It’s difficult to quantify how many abortions take place globally. Estimates range from 56 million to 73 million abortions per year.

Of those, about 25 million are considered unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion may lead to about 70,000 deaths and 5 million serious complications yearly.

Some of these abortions involve visiting traditional medicine practitioners or other community members who perform surgical procedures outside of a clinical setting.

Others are SMAs that may involve using ethnobotanical and folk remedies, including herbs and teas, or attempting Self-injury..

People have used traditional medicine and other methods to induce abortions for a long time. Many of the practices studied are found to be ineffective, unsafe or both.

People living in areas that criminalize abortion, people with poverty or homelessness, and youth are the most likely to attempt SMA using unsafe methods.

For example, one study found that people with uteruses who are not cisgender — including transgender men, genderqueer folks, and other gender-expansive people — reported high interest in SMA.

A small number of people said they attempted an SMA without aid. Taking herbs, using vitamins, and using drugs or alcohol are some of the methods used.

In a 2018 U.S. study, 55% of people who reported past attempts to self-abort said they used herbs or vitamins, while 36% said they used alcohol or non-pharmaceutical rugs.

A 2021 study found that U.S. youth experiencing homelessness often default to SMA using harmful methods like physical trauma, substance misuse, or intentional starvation.

Youth participants felt that other abortion methods were too expensive or difficult to use due to their age.

One 2019 study among women across Mexico who had abortions found that it wasn’t uncommon for people to use traditional medicines like herbs alone or alongside pharmaceutical abortion medication, especially in abortion-hostile areas.

Many vitamins and herbs are said to be abortion-causing substances when taken in high amounts, or in tea or into the vagina. There is no evidence to support their use.

In one 2021 study, about half of participants who attempted SMAs used vitamin C, parsley, Dong Quai, rose hips, ginger root, chamomile, and black cohosh. Others took analgesics, antibiotics, birth control pills, and caffeine pills.

of these substances are approved or recommended for inducing abortion, and some can cause serious harm — even in small amounts.

Black cohosh, pennyroyal, mugwort, parsley, and vitamins C and C are some of the most commonly tried home remedies.

Pennyroyal oil and pennyroyal tea

Pennyroyal is the name given to a herbal extract or oil derived from a few plants that belong to the mint family: Mentha pulegium or Hedeoma pulegoides. It’s long been used in folk medicine to induce periods and abortions.

However, pennyroyal oil can cause serious side effects, even at doses as low as one tablespoon (15 mL). Side effects of ingesting pennyroyal oil — or tea made with pennyroyal oil — may include:

  • It was faint.
  • Seizures.
  • A coma.
  • cardiopulmonary collapse is sudden failure of the heart and lungs.
  • There are injuries to the body such as the liver, or failure of the body.
  • There is insufficiency of the renal system.
  • multi-organ failure
  • death

In addition to its potential to harm you, some research suggests that pennyroyal oil does not have the ability to induce an abortion or affect contractions of the uterus.

It is not a good idea to consume pennyroyal to attempt an SMA.

Black cohosh

Also known as snakeroot, black bugbane, or rattleweed, black cohosh (Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa) has been used in traditional Indigenous medicine for centuries.

It’s been suggested that black cohosh may treat pain, There is a high degree of fever., cough, pneumonia, and menstrual irregularities, induce labor and support reproductive health.

Black cohosh is used to treat menstrual cramps.

“There isn’t much evidence for any of these claims. There is limited research into the side effects of black cohosh.”

There are some weak associations between black cohosh supplements and gastrointestinal upset, breast pain, infection, abnormal vaginal bleeding, liver damage, cramps, headaches, and rashes.

There is no evidence that black cohosh can cause an abortion, but there is evidence that it can cause side effects. SMA is not a method that black cohosh is recommended to use.


Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) also has a storied history as an Indigenous medicine, with some suggesting that it can treat digestive problems, menstruation irregularities, high blood pressure., and stress.

There is little scientific research that supports using mugwort for these conditions.

Some people take mugwort to attempt abortions, as it’s been found to potentially influence miscarriage and affect animals’ pregnancy outcomes. That doesn’t mean it’s effective at causing abortions in humans, though.

The herb is generally recognized as safe when taken as an over-the-counter supplement, but large doses of some variations of mugwort may cause side effects.

These include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • The nervous system is damaged.
  • high blood pressure.
  • stomach ache.
  • There is a brain injury.
  • There is a feeling of dizziness.
  • insomnia and restless legs
  • urine retention
  • Seizures.
  • There are tremors.

It is said that mugwort has high potential for allergic reactions and may cause anaphylactic shock. It is not a safe method of SMA.


SMA attempts have used parsley and oils from it for many years. Taking concentrated parsley oils has been associated with death.

parsley leaves and seeds contain high levels of a compound called parsley apiole, which can cause poisoning in large amounts.

There are other side effects that can be fatal if you get parsley poisoning.

  • There is a high degree of fever.
  • There is abdominal pain.
  • vaginal bleeding
  • convulsions
  • vomiting and diarrhea

In one 2021 study, taking parsley apiole caused fatal liver and kidney toxicity in every mouse that took it. While results of animal trials don’t always apply to humans, liver and kidney damage may still be reasonable concerns.

Parsley also contains a compound called myristicin. Like apiole, myristicin can cause uterine contractions and may be associated with miscarriage.

parsley-based treatments are not recommended or proven to be safe due to the risk of side effects. parsley is not clear how effective it is in inducing abortion.

(Remember that most studies involve concentrated oils derived from parsley’s leaves or seeds — not parsley itself.)

Over-the-counter and prescription medications

It is never a good idea to take more than the recommended dose of any medication. When taking vitamins and supplements, they can pose risks.

Those that don’t cause direct harm may just be ineffective. For example, despite some myths, vitamin C cannot cause an abortion.

You should also never use alcohol or criminalized drugs to try and induce abortion, nor should you engage in Self-injury.. You deserve safe, compassionate, judgment-free abortion care — and options are available.

There are some of the biggest risks associated with common abortion home remedies.

Incomplete abortion

An incomplete abortion is an abortion that didn’t completely work. This means that products of the pregnancy remain in your body, so you’ll likely need medical treatment to complete the abortion.

Untreated, an incomplete abortion can lead to life threatening infections.


Medical facilities work hard to keep their environments sterile because of the risk of infections during surgeries.

Some home remedies call for an instrument to be inserted through the uterus. Even if you think you have properly sterilized the instrument, it is still dangerous.

An infection in your vagina, cervix, or uterus can cause permanent damage, including infertility. An infection in this area can also spread to your bloodstream, causing life threatening blood poisoning.


Major blood loss is what hemorrhage refers to. If you or someone without medical training tries to perform a surgical abortion on you, you run the risk of accidentally severing a major blood vessel, causing internal bleeding.

It is not possible to see internal bleeding until it is too late.


A surgical abortion can result in scarring and hemorrhaging.

This scarring can affect your internal and external genitalia, leading to infertility and other health conditions.


Herbal remedies are natural and may seem harmless. Even common herbs can have powerful effects.

Most herbal abortion methods require consuming more than the recommended dose.

“If you ingest more than the amount known to be safe for humans, your body has to work overtime to remove toxins and other compounds from the herbs. This can cause damage to the body’s organs.”

“Many people who attempt to self-manage an abortion via a home remedy do so because abortion is illegal or restricted where they live. Since it is difficult to research illegal activities, we don’t have much data about the effectiveness of abortion home remedies.”

One small 2020 study based in Texas, where abortion access is limited for many, surveyed people who attempted abortions on their own.

Many of them tried home remedies, including herbs and vitamins, birth control pills, certain foods, and alcohol or drugs, instead of abortion medication.

of the people who reported using home remedies alone said they were successful in ending their pregnancies.

Home remedies used by people can be difficult to use and they often try several methods before visiting an abortion provider.

Older research from rural Tanzania asked women who presented to medical facilities with incomplete abortions about what abortion methods they’d tried.

Two-thirds of people said they had tried an abortion outside of a clinical setting. More than a third of them said they had plants.

The researchers found that of the 21 plant species participants reported using, 16 had some ability to encourage uterus contraction. Plants for abortion run a high risk of having incomplete abortions that need follow-up medical care.

Most abortion home remedies are not only dangerous but also ineffective.

If you’ve decided that an abortion is right for you, there are safe, legal alternatives to herbs, Self-injury., and out-of-clinic procedures — and you can still self-manage your abortion at home.

There are two main types of abortion.

  • Medical abortion. A medical abortion involves taking pills or dissolving medication in your vagina or inner cheek. Medication abortions can be safely self-managed at home.
  • Surgical abortion. A surgical abortion is a medical procedure involving suction. It’s done by a provider in a medical facility, and you can usually go home after the procedure so long as you bring someone to drive you.

Medical abortions are usually only recommended up until week 12 of pregnancy.

“Most states don’t allow abortions after 20 weeks or the end of the second trimester. If the pregnancy poses a serious health risk, they usually only be done after this point.”

There are different types of abortion, including cost and timelines.

Watch out for crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs)

Some of the healthcare services that are offered by some of the CPCs are limited, and they do not provide abortions or support access to abortions.

People are shamed and misled into believing that abortion is harmful.

The Crisis Pregnancy Center Map can help you steer clear of these predatory groups. You can also check ReproAction’s Fake Clinic Database and the #ExposeFakeClinics resource hub.

Learn how to identify, avoid, and leave CPCs.

“If you have already taken steps to have an abortion, make sure to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, seek medical attention.”

If you notice any of the symptoms, you should go to the emergency room.

  • It takes under an hour for the bleeding to soak through the pad.
  • There was vomit, stool, or urine.
  • There is a high degree of fever. or chills
  • Your skin or eyes are yellow.
  • There is pain in your abdomen or pelvis.
  • vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • inability to wake up
  • sweaty, cold, bluish, or pale skin
  • There is confusion.

Seek care

If you live in an abortion-hostile state, you should still seek medical care for any side effects.

“It is almost impossible for healthcare professionals to tell the difference between an accidental abortion and an intentional abortion. You don’t have to tell them you’ve tried a home abortion.”

“It is important to tell them about any substances you took. You don’t have to tell them you were trying to get an abortion.”

Guidance on your options, help with finding a provider, and assistance with covering the costs of an abortion can be offered by several U.S. organizations.

Information and services

If you’re unsure where to start, consider reaching out to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic, which you can find here.

The staff at the clinic can help you make a decision.

They can provide you with lower-cost services once you decide.

Other options include and the National Abortion Federation’s U.S. Abortion Clinic Locator.

The National Abortion Federation also operates a hotline that can help you find an abortion provider or financial support for your abortion.

Financial assistance

People pay for abortion care through abortion funds. They can help you find abortion providers.

You can contact some abortion funds for help.

The above list is far from complete, as many local and regional communities have abortion funds. The National Network of Abortion Funds can connect you with local organizations serving your area.


Depending on where you live, a physician or abortion provider can prescribe abortion medication to you, and you can take it at home. You can order pills online.

Online ordering of pills appears to be just as safe as those in person.

One US-based study analyzed pills sent from 16 websites that provide medication abortion. The websites all mailed safe, legitimate medicines as advertised, and they usually arrived in a timely manner.

Plus, a 2017 study involving 1,000 Irish women found that medical abortions done with the help of an organization called Women on Web were highly effective.

Almost all participants who had a problem sought medical treatment, and those who did have a problem were well-equipped to recognize them.

Prioritize your privacy

There are legal risks to self-managing abortion. Some states restrict access to abortion.

This means that discretion and privacy are of paramount importance.

If you can, tell as few people as you can about your decision to end the pregnancy.

Clear any internet search, private message, or phone call history that might connect this to you.

Trying to make sense of the limitations in your state? Our state-by-state guide to abortion restrictions can help.

To learn more about your legal rights, you can message the ReproLegal Helpline via a secure online form or call (844) 868-2812.

The availability of abortion varies by country.

The Center for Reproductive Rights offers more information on abortion laws worldwide, along with a map you can use to check the abortion laws in your country.

If you live in Canada, you can call the National Abortion Federation hotline at 877-257-0012 for a referral to a clinic near you.

If you live in the United Kingdom, British Pregnancy Advisory Services can give you more information about abortion. They provide abortion services and support to international patients.

Humans have used various methods to end their pregnancies for hundreds of years. People living in areas that criminalize abortion are more likely to try methods like these.

Since the fall of the right to legal abortion in the US, well-meaning people have increasingly shared advice on “abortion home remedies” on social media.

Most of the methods have not been studied for safety or effectiveness. Those that have been studied have been found to be risky and could harm you.

“It is best to avoid them. This doesn’t mean you are out of options.”

If you need an abortion, you can get FDA-approved medication, a procedure at a verified clinic, or a procedure in-person.

You have the right to make decisions about what happens to your body, even if the laws and regulations in your area are not perfect.

Rose Thorne is an associate editor at Healthline Nutrition. A 2021 graduate of Mercer University with a degree in journalism and women’s & gender studies, Rose has bylines for Business Insider, The Washington Post, The Lily, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and more. Rose’s proudest professional accomplishments include being a college newspaper editor-in-chief and working at Fair Fight Action, the national voting rights organization. Rose covers the intersections of gender, sexuality, and health, and is a member of The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists and the Trans Journalists Association. You can find Rose on Twitter.