Cervical preparation with misoprostol (Cytotec) significantly reduces major complications of early surgical abortion, according to World Health Organization research in The Lancet.
The drug is commonly used for cervical preparation prior to vacuum aspiration.
Swiss researchers compared rates of complications in 2,485 women given misoprostol prior to termination before 12 weeks gestation and 2,487 given a placebo.
Those given misoprostol were nearly a third less likely to experience one complication or more, compared to those receiving placebo.
Additionally, the risk of incomplete abortion was almost three times higher in the placebo group than in the misoprostol group. Minor cervical tears and uterine perforations were also less common in the misoprostol group.
Abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, and nausea were more frequent after treatment with misoprostol during the three hours prior to surgery. But no differences in the incidences of pelvic inflammatory disease or other serious adverse events were noted between the groups.
The authors conclude: “Misoprostol reduced the overall incidence of complications, particularly incomplete abortions and unscheduled clinic visits and hospital admissions after abortion…Providers should be aware of the side-effects of the drug and inform women about these effects.”