Definition - What does Misoprostol mean?

Misoprostol is a medication that is used to help treat incomplete miscarriages. Misoprostol is a prostaglandin, which is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that causes the muscles of the uterus to contract, stimulating labor.

When a miscarriage occurs sometimes the body does not completely empty the products of conception from the uterus. Women can choose to undergo a surgery called dilation and curettage (D&C) or vacuum aspiration to remove any retained products of conception. Misoprostol is an alternative treatment to undergoing these procedures. Misoprostol has the advantage of being able to be treated at home.

Misoprostol is also known as Cytotec.

FertilitySmarts explains Misoprostol

Misoprostol is administered by mouth or as a vaginal suppository. Both ways of administration have been shown to be as effective in treating incomplete miscarriages. Sometimes, misoprostol is combined with mifepristone which works in a similar way to produce muscle contractions to help with emptying contents of the uterus.

When taking misoprostol for miscarriage one can expect lower abdominal pain and cramping that becomes more intense as time goes on. Bleeding usually occurs within taking the first few doses which are usually taken every four hours until uterine contractions occur. Often women are prescribed a limited number of doses and instructed to take all of them. A follow-up visit with the doctor is usually scheduled the following week or two to ensure success of the treatment. If emptying of the uterus is incomplete women may need to have a D&C or vacuum aspiration.

It is important to avoid becoming pregnant for at least a month after taking misoprostol. Prolonged vaginal bleeding or spotting can occur for up to two weeks. Taking it orally can have side effects that include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, chills, and diarrhea.

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