Misoprostol is a drug that belongs to the prostaglandin family of drugs. It has been available for many years to treat stomach ulcers. Misoprostol can also soften the cervix and cause it to dilate, making a surgical procedure safer, easier and less uncomfortable. It is usually given by mouth two hours before the scheduled procedure.
Misoprostol is very safe, but it does have some common side effects. It will cause cramping similar to menstrual cramps and some women will begin to bleed before it is time to have the procedure itself. These side effects are all indications that the medication is working. Misoprostol will also prevent heavy bleeding during and after the procedure. Misoprostol is not a pain medication, and it does not impair your judgment.
Misoprostol has been linked to birth defects in a developing fetus. For this reason a woman should not take it unless she is absolutely committed to proceeding with the surgery.
When you take Misoprostol before a procedure, you may walk around but you should stay close to the office. You may need a rest room. You may wish to wear a sanitary pad, as bleeding can occur. You may eat lightly if you wish. You should not take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) but you may take Tylenol for the cramping. It is important to inform the clinician regarding any prescription or over-the-counter medications you have taken prior to your procedure.
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Exhale offers a free, After-Abortion Talkline
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Frequently Asked Questions
National Organization for Women
Rochester, NY Chapter
Monroe County Medical Society
Medical Society of the State of New York
National Abortion Federation
J Fam Pract. 1997