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Cytotec Side Effects

Generic Name: misoprostol

Note: This document contains side effect information about misoprostol. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Cytotec.

In Summary

Common side effects of Cytotec include: abdominal pain. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to misoprostol: oral tablet

Along with its needed effects, misoprostol (the active ingredient contained in Cytotec) 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 while taking misoprostol:

  • Cramps
  • 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
  • chills
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • cough
  • difficult, burning, or painful urination
  • difficulty with breathing
  • difficulty with moving
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • ear congestion
  • feeling unusually cold
  • fever
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • headache
  • hives, itching, or skin rash
  • loss of voice
  • lower back or side pain
  • muscle pain or stiffness
  • nasal congestion
  • nervousness
  • 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
  • shivering
  • slow or fast heartbeat
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • sweating
  • 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 of misoprostol 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:

More common Less common
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • belching
  • bloated
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • full feeling
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • 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
  • depression
  • 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

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to misoprostol: oral tablet


The most commonly reported side effects included uterine contractions/cramping, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.[Ref]


Uterine contractions/cramping usually occurred within hours of oral administration.

Heavy bleeding required hemostatic curettage in up to 1.4% of patients.[Ref]

Very common (10% or more): Uterine contractions/cramping (up to 45%)
Common (1% to 10%): Endometritis, heavy bleeding, pelvic inflammatory disease
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Cramps, dysmenorrhea, hypermenorrhea, intermenstrual bleeding, menstrual disorder, spotting, vaginal hemorrhage
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Menorrhagia
Frequency not reported: Abnormal uterine contractions, breast pain, dysuria, hematuria, impotence, polyuria, postmenopausal vaginal bleeding, urinary tract infection, uterine hemorrhage, uterine perforation, uterine rupture[Ref]


Diarrhea usually occurred early in treatment, and was typically dose-related, self-limiting, and required discontinuation in approximately 2% of patients in clinical trials.[Ref]

Very common (10% or more): Diarrhea (up to 40%), abdominal pain (up to 20%)
Common (1% to 10%): Constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence, nausea, vomiting
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Light to moderate cramping
Frequency not reported: Dysphagia, gastrointestinal bleeding, gastrointestinal inflammation and infection, gingivitis, loose stools, profound diarrhea, rectal disorder, reflux[Ref]

Nervous system

Vagal symptoms included hot flush, dizziness, and chills.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Dizziness, headache
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Vagal symptoms
Frequency not reported: Abnormal taste, drowsiness, neuropathy, syncope[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Infection following abortion
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Fever/pyrexia
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Birth defects, chills, fetal death, malaise
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Serious/fatal septic shock, serious/fatal toxic shock
Frequency not reported: Aches/pains, asthenia, deafness, earache, fatigue, incomplete abortion, premature birth, retained placenta, rigors, tinnitus[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Skin rash/rash
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Erythema nodosum, erythroderma, toxic epidermal necrolysis, urticaria
Frequency not reported: Alopecia, dermatitis, diaphoresis/increased sweating[Ref]


Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Hot flushes
Frequency not reported: Amniotic fluid embolism, arrhythmia, arterial thrombosis, cardiovascular accidents, cerebrovascular accident, chest pain, coronary artery spasm, edema, hypertension, hypotension, increased cardiac enzymes, myocardial infarction/fatal myocardial infarction, pallor, phlebitis, severe hypotension, thromboembolic events[Ref]


Very rare (less than 0.01%): Angioedema
Frequency not reported: Anaphylactic reaction, anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Bronchitis, bronchospasm, dyspnea, epistaxis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, upper respiratory tract infection[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Appetite change, gout, increased alkaline phosphatase, increased nitrogen, severe dehydration, thirst, weight changes[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Abnormal differential, anemia, increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate, purpura, thrombocytopenia[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Anxiety, confusion, depression, loss of libido, neurosis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Arthralgia, back pain, myalgia, muscle cramps. stiffness[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Abnormal vision, conjunctivitis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Abnormal hepatobiliary function[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Glycosuria[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

2. "Product Information. Cytotec (misoprostol)." Searle, Skokie, IL.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

Some side effects of Cytotec may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.