There are a few different choices for terminating a pregnancy and using abortion pills is the most natural and often one of the most common choices by women. The brand Cytotec (generic name know as Misoprostol)  for abortion is taken either at an abortion clinic with medical monitoring or sometimes at home if the pregnancy is still early. This is often the choice over surgical procedures like the D & C, which can have complications. According to Webmd, Cytotec has an 90% success rate to cause an abortion when used alone.

How Does Cytotec for Abortion Work?

Misopristol/Cytotec is actually a medication to treat ulcers, but off-label it causes the body to abort a pregnancy. Cytotec works in a few different ways to induce an abortion, it works by:

  • Making the cervix soft and causes it to open
  • Making the uterine muscles contract
  • Inducing labor to expel the fetus

This medication is a type of hormone known as prostaglandin. When allowed, doctors use it in combination with other medications to cause a stronger reaction from the uterus such as mifepristone (RU-486) or methotrexate. In many countries, mifepristone is outlawed as an abortion drug. While this medication is generally safe for these off-labeled uses, it still must be closely monitored by a physician during administration. Most of the time, it is given in clinics or hospital birthing centers. 

It's better not to use Cytotec for abortion when:

  • You've passed 12 or more weeks of pregnancy because of possible serious complications
  • There is a possibility of an ectopic (or extra-uterine) pregnancy

  • You have an intra uterine device (IUD)

Cytotec may be used for other things like:

  • Late (second trimester) pregnancy termination
  • To treat an incomplete miscarriage
  • Labor induction for late (third trimester) abortions
  • Inducing labor for live births at term

How to Use Cytotec for Abortion

As mentioned above, Cytotec is normally used in combination with other drugs that cause uterine contractions, but it can work alone. If the pregnancy is still in the first trimester, mistopristol/Cytotec can be used either orally or vaginally. It is more effective when placed in the vagina, but doctors will now only allow it to be taken by mouth because of the possibility of infection that can be fatal when used vaginally. Cytotec is slightly more effective orally when taken buccally, which is allowing it to dissolve in the cheek or under the tongue.

Please remember that incorrect use of Cytotec can be harmful for your body! To cause an abortion:

  • Put 4 pills of of 200 micrograms (800 mcg in total ) Cytotec under the tongue. Do not swallow the pills (wait until at least 30 minutes until the pills dissolve)
  • 3 hours later put another 4 pills under the tongue (wait until at least 30 minutes until the pills dissolve)
  • After 3 hours put another 4 pills under the tongue again wait until at least 30 minutes until the pills dissolve)

If the abortion is successful, you should gradually experience cramping and bleeding. If no bleeding occurs and you have had a positive pregnancy test, you could have an ectopic pregnancy and need an ultrasound. This is a medical emergency and very dangerous. Seek medical help for side effects such as severe cramping, feeling dizzy or faint, or fever. If a doctor confirms you still have a pregnancy in the uterus, you may need to take more doses of Cytotec for abortion.

Things to Consider Before Using Cytotec for Abortion

When you choose to have an abortion, you will need to discuss with your doctor the following issues:

  • Previous medical history ( diseases of the intestines, stomach)
  • Stage of pregnancy
  • Any legal issues with abortion where you live
  • Your personal wishes
  • If you have had a cesarean in the past
  • If you had surgeries on the uterus or more than five pregnancies

You cannot use Cytotec if you have an allergy to prostaglandin medications. Also, if this medication does not complete the abortion and the fetus lives, the medication can cause birth defects. If you still wish to end your pregnancy, you may need to have a surgical procedure to finish the abortion.

You should use caution with Cytotec if you smoke or drink alcohol because it raises your risk for bleeding in the stomach. Try to cut down on drinking and quit smoking before use of this drug.

Side Effects of Cytotec for Abortion

Cytotec can cause side-effects and some can be severe. Here are some of the side-effects:

  • Passing blood clots
  • Severe cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Fatigue
  • Chills, hot flashes, sweating or shivering

When to See a Doctor

It is very important to contact your doctor at once if you experience any of the following after using Cytotec for abortion:

  • Heavy bleeding soaking more than 2 pads an hour for two hours
  • Heavy bleeding for more than 12 hours
  • Fever, headache, achiness, feeling faint or feeling “flu like”, which could signal infection
  • Passage of blood clots that are large
  • Pain, redness and inflammation in the vaginal area
  • Vomiting
  • Severe cramping that pain medication or rest does not relieve
  • Fever over 100.4 °F
  • Discharge that has a foul odor
  • Increased heart rate

You should see your doctor for follow-up care if you experience any of the following after using Cytotec for abortion:

  • Depression or “baby blues”
  • Heavy bleeding that does not lighten after 2 weeks
  • Any new symptoms you did not have before using the medication
  • Your normal period does not return 6 weeks after the procedure