Administration of misoprostol to women who are pregnant can cause birth defects, abortion, premature birth, or uterine rupture. Uterine rupture has been reported when misoprostol was administered in pregnant women to induce labor or to induce abortion. The risk of uterine rupture increases with advancing gestational ages and with prior uterine surgery, including Cesarean delivery. Misoprostol should not be used for reducing the risk of NSAID-induced ulcers in women of childbearing potential unless the patient is at high risk of developing gastric ulcers or complications. Women must have a negative serum pregnancy test within 2 weeks prior to beginning therapy, use effective contraceptive measures, and initiate therapy only on the second or third day of the next normal menstrual period. Oral and written warnings of the hazards of misoprostol, including the risk of possible contraception failure, must be given to the patient prior to initiating therapy .
Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Endocrine-Metabolic Agent
Pharmacologic Class: Prostaglandin
Uses For misoprostol
Misoprostol is used to decrease the chance of having stomach ulcers in patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including aspirin. Misoprostol works by helping the stomach protect itself against acid damage, and decreases the amount of acid produced by the stomach.
Misoprostol is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using misoprostol
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For misoprostol, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to misoprostol or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of misoprostol in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of misoprostol in the elderly.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking misoprostol, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using misoprostol with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of misoprostol. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Dehydration or
- Heart or blood vessel problems or
- Inflammatory bowel disease or
- Stomach ulcers, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Kidney disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of the slower removal of the medicine from the body.
Proper Use of misoprostol
For safe and effective use of misoprostol, do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than ordered by your doctor. Taking too much of misoprostol may increase the chance of unwanted effects. Do not change the dose or stop using misoprostol without checking first with your doctor.
Misoprostol should come with a patient information leaflet. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Misoprostol is best taken with or after meals and at bedtime, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. To help prevent loose stools, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping, always take misoprostol with food or milk.
Do not give misoprostol to another person.
The dose of misoprostol will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of misoprostol. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- To prevent stomach ulcers in patients taking NSAIDs:
- Adults—200 micrograms (mcg) four times a day with food. Other patients may need 100 mcg four times a day with food. Take the last dose of the day at bedtime.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- To prevent stomach ulcers in patients taking NSAIDs:
If you miss a dose of misoprostol, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using misoprostol
Do not use misoprostol if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Misoprostol can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or birth defects if taken during pregnancy. You will need to have a negative pregnancy test within 2 weeks before you start using misoprostol. Continue to use birth control for at least 1 month after you stop using misoprostol. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
Begin using misoprostol on the 2nd or 3rd day of your next monthly period. This is to make sure you are not pregnant.
Misoprostol may cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, or nausea in some people. These effects will usually disappear within a few days as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, check with your doctor if the diarrhea, cramps, or nausea is severe and/or does not stop after a week. Your doctor may have to lower the dose of misoprostol you are taking.
Misoprostol Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- heavy bleeding
- painful menstruation
Incidence not known
- Bladder pain
- bloody nose
- bloody or black, tarry stools
- bloody or cloudy urine
- blurred vision
- body aches or pain
- chest pain
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- difficulty with breathing
- difficulty with moving
- difficulty with swallowing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- ear congestion
- feeling unusually cold
- frequent urge to urinate
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- loss of voice
- lower back or side pain
- muscle pain or stiffness
- nasal congestion
- pain in the joints
- pale skin
- pounding in the ears
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- runny nose
- severe stomach pain
- slow or fast heartbeat
- sore throat
- tightness in the chest
- troubled breathing with exertion
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Acid or sour stomach
- excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
- full feeling
- passing gas
- stomach discomfort or upset
Incidence not known
- Blistering, crusting, irritation, itching, or reddening of the skin
- breast pain
- burning, dry, or itching eyes
- change in taste
- continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
- cracked, dry, scaly skin
- discharge, excessive tearing
- hair loss or thinning of the hair
- hearing loss
- lack or loss of strength
- paleness of the skin
- redness, pain, swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid
- weight changes
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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