Your Top Questions on Abortion and Birth Control, Broken Down

Explore TikTok users’ top questions on abortion and birth control, answered by OB-GYN Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley.

Twenty-one states currently have abortion restrictions tighter than the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. Not only do these bans leave people without necessary reproductive healthcare, but they fail to set a precedent for how people in the U.S. should handle access to abortions and other forms of care. With abortion laws left up to the states, questions regarding safe and legal abortion are on the rise. 

Power to Decide is a nonprofit fighting for sexual and reproductive health advancement for all so that people have control over their bodies, allowing them to decide if, when and under what circumstances to have a child. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH, chief executive officer of Power to Decide and practicing OB-GYN, is dedicated to educating people on abortion and the healthcare options that come with it. 

As a helpful tool, Power to Decide created the series #AskDrRaegan as a way to provide candid, judgment-free sexual health information to young people by meeting them where they are: on social media. Below is a list of TikTok users’ top questions on abortion and birth control answered by Dr. Raegan. 

Is Medication Abortion Painful?

As an OB-GYN who provides abortions (along with other reproductive care), Dr. Raegan shares helpful and reliable abortion information on her #AskDrRaegan series via TikTok. The account, Bedsider, is a part of an evidence-based digital platform that offers medically accurate, relevant and resonant information on all aspects of reproductive well-being. Above, she shares information on pain that may come with medication abortions, as well as how to prevent and manage it. 

According to Dr. Raegan on medication abortion, some people experience small amounts of pain similar to period cramps whereas others experience pain similar to the contractions you have while giving birth. Although the pain from a medication abortion can last longer than a procedure, the pain should improve after passing the pregnancy.  

How Long Does an Abortion Take?

The two types of abortions—the abortion pill and abortion procedure—span under 10 minutes minutes to several hours. 

“With the abortion pill you take two different medications. The first medication stops the pregnancy from continuing to develop, and the second medication causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus,” said Dr. Raegan. 

The first medication taken to begin an abortion is mifepristone and the second is misoprostol—you might remember mifepristone from disputes around FDA approval of the medication in the U.S. Supreme Court in April and again most recently in December.  

Although the use of both pills is recommended by the World Health Organization, misoprostol-only abortions are 85 to 95 percent effective when used up to 11 weeks from the first day of your last period. 

Can I Be Asleep During an Abortion?


Here are your sedation options for an #abortion procedure. ❤️ #AskDrRaegan #pregnancyoptions

♬ Eternal – Danilo Stankovic

According to Dr. Raegan, there are various options for sedation during an abortion procedure. Anti-anxiety medication, conscious or moderate sedation, and general anesthesia are all examples of options offered through some abortion care providers. 

“Sedation may cost extra. You can, and should, ask your provider about what the options are for sedation. And be sure that you’re comfortable with those options,” said Dr. Raegan. 

I Threw Up Taking My Birth Control Pill. Now What?

“If you threw up within two hours of taking your pill, treat it as a missed pill and take the next pill in your pack right away,” said Dr. Raegan. 

She also notes that it’s a good idea to use a backup contraception method for the next seven days to prevent pregnancy. 

Will Birth Control Make Me Gain Weight? 


With one exception, research has found no direct link between using hormonal birth control and gaining weight! #AskDrRaegan #birthcontrol #birthcontroloptions #FAQ #todayilearned

♬ Eternal – Danilo Stankovic

Although everyone’s body reacts differently to various birth control methods, most will not cause weight gain. 

“Research shows that the pill, the patch, the hormonal IUD, the ring, and non-hormonal methods like the copper IUD or condoms don’t cause weight gain. Studies do show that injectable birth control can cause weight gain. In fact, about one in four people who use the shot will gain some weight,” said Dr. Raegan. 

Up next:

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Livia Follet is an editorial intern for Ms. and a recent graduate from The University of Colorado Boulder where she earned bachelor's degrees in English literature and women and gender studies. Raised in rural Colorado, her interests include environmental justice movements, Indigenous feminisms and reproductive justice.