Background: When medical abortion was first introduced in China, prostaglandins (PGs) were used alone or in combination with Chinese herbs or steroid drugs, but the results were not satisfactory. Mifepristone is now produced in three companies in China and is commonly used with PGs for medical abortion.
Methods: We performed a Chinese- and English-language literature review of medical abortion in early pregnancy in China.
Results: A large multicenter trial conducted in China showed that, when used with a PGF(2alpha) analogue, the complete abortion rate in women given multiple doses of mifepristone (total, 150 mg) was significantly higher than that in women given a single dose of 200 mg of mifepristone. Oral misoprostol (0.6 mg) with mifepristone is now the most commonly used regimen, with a complete abortion rate of over 93%. In China, medical abortion is currently restricted to pregnancies before 49 days, but some hospitals have recently extended the use of medical abortion to pregnancies beyond 49 days. Prolonged bleeding is the main medical abortion side effect and is more likely to occur if the blood levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin fall slowly or when the gestational sac is big. Prescription of testosterone propionate may reduce the duration of bleeding. Over 80% of Chinese women are satisfied with current medical abortion regimens and will choose medical abortion again if they need to terminate a future unwanted pregnancy.
Conclusion: Currently, medical abortion is a safe, efficient and acceptable method for the termination of early pregnancy in China.