Prostaglandins for first-trimester termination

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2003 Oct;17(5):745-63. doi: 10.1016/s1521-6934(03)00070-1.


Since the 1980s, when mifepristone combined with a prostaglandin was found to be safe and effective for early abortion, many studies have refined the regimens and investigated alternatives such as methotrexate plus misoprostol, and misoprostol alone. Evidence now demonstrates that more than 200 mg of mifepristone provides no additional benefit, that vaginal misoprostol is superior to oral, especially between 7 and 9 weeks' gestation, and that misoprostol may be safely self-administered at home. Buccal and sublingual routes of administration of misoprostol also are promising. Absolute contraindications to medical abortion arise infrequently. Gastrointestinal and other side-effects occur in about one-third of women, primarily after administration of the prostaglandin. Careful assessment before and after medical abortion is essential and can be accomplished in various ways, depending on the skills of the clinician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal / administration & dosage*
  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Administration, Oral
  • Alprostadil / administration & dosage
  • Alprostadil / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cervical Ripening
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mifepristone / administration & dosage
  • Mifepristone / adverse effects
  • Misoprostol / administration & dosage
  • Misoprostol / adverse effects
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Tests
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Prostaglandins, Synthetic / administration & dosage*
  • Prostaglandins, Synthetic / adverse effects
  • Self Administration


  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal
  • Prostaglandins, Synthetic
  • Misoprostol
  • Mifepristone
  • gemeprost
  • Alprostadil