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Misoprostol is a drug that has been approved for the treatment and prevention of gastric ulsters. It's also been licensed for gynecological purposes in some countries, including labor induction and the completion of a missed miscarriage, as well as early abortion in combination with other drugs. How is misoprostol used for early terminations of pregnancy?

Mifepristone/Misoprostol for medical abortion

The combination of mifepristone and misoprostol has proven to be effective for early medical abortions, and the combination is approved for this use in quite a few countries. This two-part method starts off with mifepristone, which causes the placenta to separate from the uterus. Misoprostol, which induces uterine contractions and thus expels the fetal material, is the next step. This method is 92 percent effective during the first seven weeks of pregnancy, and requires medical supervision.

Misoprostol only abortions?

There have been many reports about the use of misoprostol, especially self-administration of this drug where women don't have access to safe, more effective use of abortion. There is some indication that misoprostol can complete early abortions as a single drug, which is only confirmed by the fact that the medication is used off-labor as a labor induction protocol very often. Misoprostol only could be effective, but also poses risks and should certainly not be used where the mifepristone and misoprostol regime is available. Surgical abortion would be a safer alternative if only misoprostol would be available. It is, however, understandable that women in countries where there are severe restrictions on abortions resort to the use of misoprostol, which is likely to be available as a drug for stomach ulcers.

Both the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, and misoprostol only for medical abortion can involve side effects. These include sepsis, which in turn has its own symptoms nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Those with sepsis may not have a raised temperature.

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