Cytotec is Bad Stuff

Posted on June 19, 2009. Filed under: Birth, Cesarean, cytotec, Pregnancy, vbac | Tags: , , , , |

Cytotec (misoprostol) is an ulcer medication that is frequently used for inducing labor. It is not approved for this use.

Induced and Seduced
The Dangers of Cytotec
By Ina May Gaskin

This article discusses the dangers of Cytotec. In short, Cytotec is dangerous, the randomized controlled trials for use are weak, it is not approved for labor induction and it is often times administered without the patient even knowing.

Ina May reviewed 30 studies on using Cytotec (generic misoprostol) for labor induction and found that out of 3,415 births there were:
14 baby deaths
25 uterine ruptures
2 maternal deaths
2 life-threatening hemorrhages

The most significant finding in these studies is that most of these women were given the SMALLEST DOSE POSSIBLE (25 mcg). None of these women had scars from previous cesareans either.

Other side effects of Cytotec include:
hyperstimulation of the uterus
uteroplacental blood flow
uterine rupture (requiring surgical repair, hysterectomy, and/or salpingo-oophorectomy)
amniotic fluid embolism
Pelvic pain
retained placenta
severe genital bleeding
fetal bradycardia
fetal and maternal death have been reported.
increased risk of uterine tachysystole, meconium staining of amniotic fluid, and Cesarean delivery due to uterine hyperstimulation

And here I was talking about how nasty Pitocin is!

Another thing worth noting is that because it is not recommended for use for labor induction and because the trials for the drug are weak, there is no standard on how to administer Cytotec. Some doctors put it on the cervix, some behind and some give it orally. This is experimentation on pregnant women without consent and knowledge of the risks. By the way, the package insert for Cytotec actually has a pregnant woman with an x through it.

Below are a list of quotes by doctors pulled right off the internet chat boards they participate in (I got this from Mardsen Wagner’s article on Cytotec):

“Cytotec is extremely effective at very low doses, is very cheap, and has been used on many, many women without their being aware that it really is still an experimental use.”

“I must say that I have heard some great things about Cytotec myself. I know some people who have used it and say that they have pretty good luck with it. It sounds like your ladies are pretty happy with its effects—two-hour labors and such. Just be careful. I would have to say that the biggest danger is leaving the woman alone. The stuff turns the cervix to complete MUSHIE (web message emphasis, not mine) and opens it with a couple of contractions. So whatever you do, remember that you must not stay gone too long.”

“At my suggestion our high risk OB referral hospital tried Cytotec—one-half tab per vagina—and after two cases of hyperstimulation stopped its use.”

“We’ve seen no cases of hyperstimulation after Cytotec that did not respond to a two-gram bolus of MgSo4. You can almost count on a delivery twelve hours after inserting the Cytotec tablet.” (Oh that’s nice, drug her and drug her some more)

“We are using it at Yale and although there is a format for how to give it, there is still controversy on to whom to give it. Pharmacy uses one of their nifty little pill cutters and sends us one-fourth of a 100 microgram tablet (remember this stuff was made for treatment of ulcers!)”

“I’ve personally used it twice and had excellent results in women wanting homebirths, but going postdates. I’m attaching my own protocol for anyone interested. Again I warn that I am no expert and I consider this protocol to be a “work in progress”—it will certainly change as I gather experience and information about this drug.”

“We are using misoprostol regularly for induction—my department loves it. We use one of the protocols published on OBGYN.Net web page.” (This one is my favorite, you mean to tell me they are going by something posted on a message board??)

“Our biggest fear is that the company will pull Cytotec from the market, since our internist/GI buddies tell us that it isn’t worth a darn for its labeled indication.”

To this, Marsden says:

“What is apparent from this Internet medical practice is the lack of appreciation of any borderline between experimenting on patients and practicing medicine on patients and the absence of concern for patient’s rights to informed consent.”

I say, who the hell do they think they are being so blase about guinea pigging pregnant women?!

If everyone knows that it’s not supposed to be used for labor induction and that it’s dangerous and long term affects haven’t been studied and so on, then why do doctors use it? Two reason, it works fast and it’s cheap.

We have got to start educating ourselves on what is happening to our bodies and our babies. We have got to start asking questions and refusing routine interventions and elective inductions. We cannot continue to allow these sort of things to happen. We can blame the doctors all day long and yes, they deserve a good bit of the blame but it’s also our fault too. We are letting this happen. We have to take control of our own situations and stand up for ourselves and break out of this obstetrical rut that we are in and if you don’t believe we are in a rut, think again sister. Too many women out there are way too naive and trusting about maternity care in America. We are the only ones that can do something about it.



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19 Responses to “Cytotec is Bad Stuff”

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Glad you did an entry on this stuff. I was given it for my induction with Zay and thank goodness I didn’t have any of the side effects!!!!! My doc gave me 1/2 a tab orally and just told me it would be an easier start for labor instead of he pitocin and after having that stuff before I didn’t ask any questions and was just thankful that the contractions wouldn’t be as intense. It was only after speaking with the doula group I have hired for this birth, that I learned about the nasty side effects and that it isn’t even approved for use ACK!!!! If I have to be induced this time, I’m so screwed because I don’t like either of my options for medication. :o(

“Have to be induced” is such a strong statement. If it’s a medical reason that would mean staying pregnant would be worse for you or your baby than not being pregnant, then the benefits of the medications may out way risks. Of course, you will want to find out as much info on all fronts as you can. Luckily you have a doula as back up to help you ask all the questions but chances are you won’t need a medical induction, so no worries mama!

Amy, thank you for posting this. As you know, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. If women were given the opportunity to have a truly informed consent, no one would approve of induction by cytotec. The problem is that when you get to the hospital for the “necessary” induction, you are hit with this drug name you’ve never heard of. I personally, thought I knew the drugs that were used for cervical ripening, but hadn’t heard of this one… When I SPECIFICALLY asked the nurse about that fact, she calmed my fears, saying that was the drug they used most commonly at that hospital, and it would be just fine – there were no more problems with inducing with “miso” than any of the other drugs… I had two doses put in, four hours apart. Couple that with many hours of pit and you get a baby with terrible decels… What still gets me, is that I had NO IDEA. I thought the problem was all with Genevieve, and that the drs were miracle workers who had gotten us through this terrible experience… I was so happy at the time – relieved, I guess, that everything turned out ok. It wasn’t until many months after Genna was born that Pam posted a question asking if anyone had been induced with cytotec. I had to go look it up – the nurses only called it miso. Then I made all the connections, and I just felt betrayed. I don’t know how else to say it. That dr (that I NEVER MET – he was the admitting dr, and I never saw him once) put my precious baby girl’s life as well as my life in jeopardy. Someday I will get over it, but for now it still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. Now after two kids, I have a whole new view on childbirth!

Hey Amy….and since you said you forgot to mention it, I’ll say it in this reply:

Misoprostol (Cytotec) has been used for at least a decade by Planned Parenthood as an abortion aid. It is usually given orally an hour up to a day before a surgical procedure to help soften and dilate the cervix. It is also the second part of a medication abortion – taken after mifepristone, it helps the uterus to empty and causes painful cramps and bleeding, and most women abort only a few hours after taking it. And, according to …. if you are breastfeeding and take misoprostol, it may cause your infant to have diarrhea.

That reason alone is enough to make me want to stay away from it. Combined with everything you mentioned, I’m surprised nobody’s doing anything to these doctors who are using it. They should be held liable for using a drug that is unapproved for use on pregnant women – why aren’t they?? It makes me angry, too.

Thanks Kelly. I think that it is very important to note that this drug is used for aborting unwanted pregnancies.

Good heavens. I remember Pam’s questions but not all the details. I will pass this along to friends and family who are expecting. I was induced with pitocin when my water broke and honestly I didn’t know anything about that either. I wasn’t given the option to refuse (now I realize legally I probably could have, but it surely would have had repercussions in my care) – they said “we are throwing you into labor”. End of story… 😦

Leagally you can refuse. We just don’t know that going in.

Wow, The more I read your posts the more angry I get at the hospital and medical system in America, and I was already angry with them to begin with. I can’t say I was ever happy with my birth experience with my first child but thank GOD my worthless Dr did not use this drug along with the Pit on me! While I agreed with my 2nd birth being a repeat C-section at the time, you have me realizing I should have done more research and thinking, but also where I was, yada yada. If ever I have a chance, I will arm myself with all your information/links/and my own research and I will at least attempt VBA2C simply because our medical community IS NOT doing what is best for our pregnancies or babies with drugs like these! This is just FRIGHTENING!!

You know, I want you to get angry. We need to get angry! I read something one time that said when we get off our knees the medical community will get off it’s pedestal…

[…] Posts The Six Care Practices that Support Normal Birth (Part One)Cytotec is Bad StuffMUST READ: This is What a Nursing Toddler Looks Like The Truth About Pitocin and Labor […]

I was given cytotec following the birth of my daughter by c-section. I immediately began experiencing uncontrollable chills which I was told was normal and was given dem. to stop the shaking. I was then given cytotec 2/day for the remainder of my stay. Each time I had chills, and at the peak of my experience my fever spiked to 102 degrees, my blood pressure was 171/100, and blood work showed my liver enzymes unstable. My daughter was taken to the nursery and I overheard the nurses say I may need to go back to surgery. I tried to tell them I was fine until they gave me the meds and they insisted there was no way I could have a reaction that soon after taking the meds. It wasn’t until my night nurse gave the meds again, yes again, and the chills and fever immediately returned that they thought I “may” have an allergy to the meds.

Thanks for sharing Amanda. I had not heard cytotec being given after birth, vaginal or cesarean. I will have to look into that. I am sorry you had to go through that.

I was given this to stop hemorrhaging after my son was born, as it helps stimulate stronger contractions. I also had severe shaking chills, which the nurses attributed to natural birth. My bp also went way up – I think it was around 150/?, when I normally have around  105/78. I have hemorrhaged with both of my first 2 births, and they expect the same problem with my third, due in October. Now I am wondering what options I have to stop hemorrhaging next time around… Last time it was a combination of cytotec, pitocin, and one other drug I don’t remember – a shot in the thigh. This was all after a completely natural, midwife-assisted hospital birth. :-\ 

Sorry, I just noticed this thread is super old, but in case you have any more info to share…
I was given this to stop hemorrhaging after my son was born, as it helps stimulate stronger contractions. I also had severe shaking chills, which the nurses attributed to natural birth. My bp also went way up – I think it was around 150/?, when I normally have around  105/78. I have hemorrhaged with both of my first 2 births, and they expect the same problem with my third, due in October. Now I am wondering what options I have to stop hemorrhaging next time around… Last time it was a combination of cytotec, pitocin, and one other drug I don’t remember – a shot in the thigh. This was all after a completely natural, midwife-assisted hospital birth. :-\ 

[…] get in the bed and stay there. Usually this happens because they are on some medication (pitocin, cytotec, anesthesia) that requires continual fetal monitoring and IV lines. All of this is […]

[…] they try to induce you with Cytotec (prostaglandin in the UK (sp?)), GET UP AND LEAVE. Here's Why. And Here. Cytotec isn't even authorised for inducing labour, and it can kill you. There's an extremely […]

I don’t know what to do, I did try to consume this drug but still it doesn’t make any change to my pregnancy yet… Should I put it into my cervix a lot rather than swallow it??

Thanx guys for educating us.i was induced with cytotec @ 40wks because i had oedema.after 19 hours in labour i delivered a still baby boy.what pains me is that,he was my first child.its now 5months after the tragedy and am trying fo another question is,’can that afect my chances of concieving and was cytotec the cause of stilbirth?’

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