Miscarriage Options – Misoprostol/Cytotec

This is the last post, in my set of three on each type of miscarriage and my opinions on each type after having 5 miscarriages.

Typically (baring some sort of medical complication) it is the parents’ choice how they want to proceed.

Whatever you choose, make sure you are making the right choice for you. In most circumstances you do not have to make an instantaneous choice the second you find out your baby has died or is dying. Take a few days if you need to. And, remember, the majority of people do not go through this multiple times – in fact 3 consecutive miscarriages occur in 1 % of couples, so while you may have fear trying again, remember that odds are, your next one will work!

I have had 5 pregnancies that have all ended in miscarriage. More specifically my experience is as follows:

  • Pregnancy 1 – Natural miscarriage
  • Pregnancy 2 – Misoprostol (2 maximum doses) and emergency D&C on day 2
  • Pregnancy 3 – scheduled D&C / abortion due to septic infection
  • Pregnancy 4 – Misoprostol (4 maximum doses) and multiple in office procedures to suction remaining pregnancy products out of my uterus over the following 29 days.
  • Pregnancy 5 – Biochemical Pregnancy/Natural Miscarriage which ended naturally within 48 hours

I have decided to do 3 separate posts on miscarriage options, one post on each type. Today I will focus on Misoprostol.  You can read my past posts on D&C and Natural miscarriages for more information on the other types.

Please remember this is just my opinion and I am NOT a medical professional. Consult with your medical professional to determine the best course of action for your unique circumstances.

Misoprostol / Cytotec

Misoprostol can be taken for pregnancies that have ended within the first trimester.  The idea is that misoprostol will kick start the miscarriage and force your body to expel the products of pregnancy.   The risks associated with this drug are often minimal, as they really just kick start the natural process. Most often this is done within the comfort of your own home. You should experience passing clots and eventually a roundish-whitish sac which would contain your baby. It should work relatively quickly – within a few hours. And you may be given a second dose the next day if the first dose did not work. If you choose this approach, you will be instructed to watch for excessive bleeding and to get to an emergency room for care if the bleeding is excessive or the pain is unbearable.

Note, that typically the medication works 80% of the time, and the other 20% the women will end up not passing everything and will require a D&C to remove the remaining products.

My two experiences were different, but the common element between them is that I am in that 20% where the drugs to not work properly. I have been unable to pass the products. So, my experience has been far from ideal. Here are

  • Our first experience was also our second pregnancy. We required 2 doses of 2 pills, on 2 consecutive days (a total of 4 pills). We were sent to the Early Pregnancy Loss clinic in our city. In my humble opinion this clinic was one of the absolute worst experiences we’ve had with our five losses, to the point where I have simply refused to ever go back. The clinic itself was cold and felt like we walked inside a 1950’s mental institution. We never even saw a doctor and we were pretty much given the drugs and told to go home, hope for the best and come back for a follow-up the next week sometime. The nurse was determined to make my husband and I cry and wanted to talk about every single emotion as if we had been friends for 30 years – this was not an approach we appreciated. I was given the option of having a nurse insert the pills, or doing it myself at home. I chose to do it myself as there was no way I was letting that nurse touch me. Day one, virtually nothing happened. There was a small amount of bleeding and pain that was managed with Tylenol 3’s. The second day, I took the pills and within a few hours I was in significant pain, but still there was very little bleeding. The pain continued to get worse but the bleeding did not. The Tylenol 3’s did virtually nothing to help control the pain and it was unbearable. The clinic did not tell us what to do if this happened, so at some point my husband decided it was time to go to the hospital. After a long night in the emergency room, some morphine to control the pain, I was admitted to the hospital and an emergency D & C to remove all the pregnancy products / products of conception.
  • Our second experience was entirely different. It was our 4th pregnancy loss and we were now at the local fertility clinic and were supervised daily by an RE – this made a world of difference for us, as we knew we were being closely monitored. I did not want to use the drug, and asked for a D&C instead. However, as I have already had 2 D&C’s they made a very stern recommendation that I do not have a third due to the increased risks for asherman’s syndrome. So, I listened and agreed to try one misopristol one more time. Once again, the experience itself was less than ideal as the drugs did not work properly. I ended up with 2 doses, daily for 4 consecutive days – this is the maximum that the RE would ever do, and she almost never does more than two days’ worth of the drugs. This mean we had 8 doses total. Each day I went in and the RE did a trans-vaginal ultrasound and then inserted the 2 pills. The RE was able to monitor what was going on inside and she also gave me decent pain killers (OxyContin).
    • After the 4 days, my body was still not passing enough clots. Therefore, the RE determined that I was corked and used some sort of a plunger device to remove blood clots from my uterus that were unable to pass naturally. (We have never opened a bottle of wine in quite the same way since that description was used). I do not know the name of the plunger procedure, but I can assure it was not fun! I found it incredibly painful the first time it occurred, but the intense pain only lasted a few minutes and then I was uncomfortable for a few hours afterwards. I ended up having this done once a week for the next 3 weeks, and I became much better at managing the pain and did not require pain medication to help me out.
    • It took 29 days before the miscarriage was considered complete. I never did pass the white gestational sac in one piece, but my body slowly broke it down with the combined help of the drugs and the draconian plunger. I passed multiple clots throughout the first 3 weeks and then the bleeding drastically reduced during the last week.
    • As our previous pregnancy turned into a septic miscarriage, I took a lot of comfort in being monitored by an RE throughout the process. I think it helped my sanity and Mr. MPB’s as well.

If the medication works properly, I’m told that the intense pain only lasts for a few hours while you are passing the sac. And, I suspect that it would be very hard to deal with seeing the gestational sac. It can fall into the toilet, and this can be hard emotionally for many women. However, as this is not been my experience, I cannot speak to this. I suggest reading this blog post from A Calm Persistence and this blog post from Laughs N’ Love to read the experience of a more normal misoprostol experience.

My Opinion:

  • I hate this drug. I absolutely hate it. It has resulted in intense pain which I deem unnecessary as I don’t see the point in sitting in extreme pain for the sake of it. It today’s modern world, I don’t understand how the best solution to miscarriage is to send someone home with these drugs and basically say good luck. It seems cruel and almost inhumane.
  • These drugs have lower risks then a D&C because there are no risks of developing asherman’s syndrome when you use this medication (see my post on D&C for more information on this). This is why we tried it the first time.
  • When the drug doesn’t work correctly, and it took 29 days for the miscarriage to be deemed complete, life generally sucks for 29 days. It drags the entire physical process out, which for me, delays the emotional recovery from even starting.
  • With our second time using this medication, I ended up spending almost 2 full weeks high on various powerful pain medication (usually some combination of Percocet, T3’s and Oxycontin). My life was put on hold until I was able to come off the pain drugs and manage the pain on my own. This meant no working; no being left at home without being supervised by another adult; no walking my dog; etc. This is simply not a fun way to live for my husband and for I (although, I suspect I had more fun than he did given that I was high).

What Would I Choose Next Time?

First, let me state, that I hope every single day that there will never be a next time. But, I know statistically, we have a higher than normal chance of having another miscarriage.

And, I also know that no matter what method you chose, it will be a hard experience. There is nothing easy about having a miscarriage.

That said, if the choice were mine, I would have a D&C. I like it because it is relatively painless and it is quick. The physical aspects of the miscarriage are over and done with, so I can move onto the emotional healing.

That said, I know because I’ve already had 2 D&C’s there is almost no-way I will have be given another one, unless my husband and I decide to stop trying or it becomes an emergency situation. So, if we were to try again and end up in a miscarriage situation again, I will likely take the misoprostol and hope that it works properly and that my body expels everything within a few hours.

My fear of this drug not working properly again is actually one of my biggest fears of trying again. And honestly, I’m also a bit afraid of it actually working, because I have no idea what the pain of passing the gestational sac intact would be like. But, I know, either way, I will survive it if I have to.

For further information on my miscarriage experience, you may find these post helpful:

12 Things I Wish Someone Told Me about Miscarriage

Owning Our Darkest Moment

How to Have A Miscarriage – The Practical Way

Miscarriage Options – Natural

Miscarriage Options – D &C

A Calm Persistence – Using Cytotec: 4th Miscarriage

Laughs N’ Love – Taking Misoprostol for Miscarriage

 If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

29 Comments on “Miscarriage Options – Misoprostol/Cytotec

  1. I’m sorry that you had such crappy experiences with misoprostol. I consider myself very fortunate to have had a good experience, although like you, I bled for a month afterwards and it took twice as long to get my period back than after my D&C’s. Because of that I’d probably prefer the D&C going forward although I hope I never need another.

    If anyone finds it interesting I documented my misoprostol experience on the day(s) I took it. http://laughsnlove.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/taking-misoprostol-for-miscarriage/.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is so important to share the stories of how misoprostol works when it works properly. So, thank you so much for sharing your link – I’ve added the link to all three of my posts on miscarriage options.


      • The crazy thing is mine was so painless and I had so little bleeding I was sure it didn’t work. But then the sac came out the next day and the follow up ultrasound showed it was gone. I was shocked!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The downside was that the bleeding just felt like it never ended. Which was incredibly painful emotionally which you obviously understand. I think since I was told that I “may” have an adhesion even though I prefer the d&c (asleep not awake…awake was horrible) I’d probably give misoprostal another try if needed (but hopefully it’s not).


  2. Yikes, that experience sounds really harrowing. I’m sorry you didn’t have the proper support the first time. Not the time you need to be abandoned by your medical team.
    Personally, I thought Cytotec was alright. At, 9+ weeks, I was on the tail end of when you can take it but it worked. For pain, I took a few Percocet and was glued to the heating pad. Overall, it wasn’t bad. My best advice would be to have a supportive person with you and a clear understanding of what Cytotec does and what’s “normal” in terms of bleeding and pain level.


    • Thanks so much Elizabeth. The most amazing thing about our first experience is that was the official clinic for early pregnancy losses – that’s how everyone in our city is treated! It breaks my heart just thinking about it.
      Thanks for sharing your experience – I think my experience is the rarity, so I love that others can read yours as well!
      And such great advice! So incredibly true!


  3. I am sorry to read the horrifying story of your experience with it. I used it for my third loss, and after having the first two happen naturally, it was a blessing to me. I had it done by my doctor, and within a few hours it had worked. It was no more painful for me than going naturally, although that is not to say it wasn’t painful! Both ways I have experienced have that disadvantage over d&c I suppose. It is a bit like gambling…when it works, it is great. When it doesn’t though…yikes. I can understand why you wouldn’t choose it again, but I certainly would. Let us hope it never comes to that for any of us! Thank you for sharing your experiences. It is certainly helpful to hear real-life stories when one is faced with such a heart-wrenching decision.


    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I think its so great that others will be able to read your comment and understand that when it works properly it’s really not that bad.


  4. Cytotec and misoprostol are my least favorite of the options. Well, I hate all the options. After my D&C in April this year we had found that I still had some possible retained products and was given 2 rounds of 2 different types of this drug and the 1st round didn’t do anything but make me sick (dizzy dizzy dizzy). The second was incredibly painful but did what it needed to do. I am so sorry that you have had to experience this. I am glad that your second experience was far better than the first, it totally helps when you know you have a team of people on your side. XO


    • I am so sorry that you too have had to experience this! Thank you for sharing your experience as I think having more voices to read and consider will help anyone faced with this situation.
      And you are absolutely right – its the team of people at your side that matter the most!


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  7. I had a “normal” misoprostol experience with #2. I had heard horror stories and was nervous. I decided to take it on a Friday night so my calendar was clear for the next two days. I wasn’t prescribed any pain medication. I started bleeding within an hour, passed the sac within two. The pain wasn’t unbearable or even memorable. I do remember getting really strong one-off cramps randomly two or three days later. I think I bled for about a week and that was it. Just like a period.

    Like you I would still choose D&C over any of the options.


    • Thanks for sharing your experience. My two experience were so atypical and bad, that I think it’s great for future readers to have a multiple perspectives.

      Thank you again.


  8. Thank you for sharing your experiences hon. I know it couldn’t have been easy to write this. I too hate Misoprostol more than anything, but this information is so valuable because like you said, sometimes it’s the only option and it does work for most people. Big hug hon.


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  18. I just saw this post of yours. My second pregnancy terminated with cytotec. It was 2 doses to be inserted 12 hours apart. Fortunately for me, bleeding started within 6 hours, but the cramping I can assure you was equivalent to being in full labour. It was horrible, I remember spending the night sleeping in a fetal position and each time I groaned, my husband would put pressure on my back to help with the pain.
    I bled for 4 long weeks the first week was heavy and then the second adn third week bleeding tapered off and then suddenly after 3 weeks, I passed the sac on a via rail toilet on a holiday/mental break to quebec city. The minute I passed the sac, the bleeding intensified to a non clotty flow and then ebbed off by the end of 4th week.
    I was given an option by the dr to naturally miscarry wthout drugs but I chose cytotec because I dont think I could have handled the “waiting to miscarry” emotions.


  19. Oddly, I was desperate for the drugs to help me finally miscarry properly after my first (of 8+) miscarriage. It was a missed m/c and didnt want to shift on it’s own and the idea of it slowly rotting inside me upset me hugely. Here in Queensland though it was impossible to get. My options were surgery or wait. I rang several clinics and was told that as the baby was already dead they couldn’t help but if ever I wanted an abortion they could help (!!!!)

    Friends who have used it have said that although unpleasant it was better than a dnc so I think there must be a range of experiences. I am sorry yours were so bad x


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