A Closer Look at the Side Effects of Cytotec

A Closer Look at the Side Effects of Cytotec

Cytotec (misoprostol) is a prostaglandin medication used to prevent stomach ulcers. It has some side effects, most of which are mild. However, serious reactions are also possible.

This article takes a closer look at the range of side effects associated with Cytotec and how to manage them.

Common Side Effects

The most frequent side effects involve the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Up to 28% of patients experience diarrhea from Cytotec. Other common effects include:

  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Gas/bloating
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn

Orignal Cytotec increases prostaglandin levels which can stimulate the intestines. Taking Cytotec with food helps minimize GI upset. Staying hydrated and using anti-diarrheals can also help.

Headaches, dizziness, fever, chills, and body aches may occur as well. Vaginal spotting or menstrual changes are also possible.

Most side effects are mild and resolve with continued use. However, contact your doctor if any symptoms are severe or persist.

Serious Side Effects

While rare, Cytotec may cause potentially serious reactions:

Uterine Rupture

Uterine rupture is a tear in the uterine wall. It is a known risk when Cytotec is used incorrectly to induce labor. Rupture often requires emergency C-section.

Factors that increase the risk include high doses, repeated doses, and prior uterine surgery like cesarean section.

Heavy Vaginal Bleeding

Heavy vaginal bleeding may occur with Cytotec. This is most common with its use for abortion or postpartum hemorrhage prevention.

Prolonged or excessive bleeding requires prompt medical care. It can lead to anemia and low blood pressure if severe.

Severe Allergic Reaction

Like all drugs, Cytotec can potentially trigger anaphylaxis. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include rash, itching, swelling, trouble breathing, and low blood pressure.

Anaphylaxis is rare but requires emergency treatment such as epinephrine, steroids, and oxygen if it occurs.

Severe Diarrhea

In some cases, the diarrhea from Cytotec can become serious with dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Hospitalization may be needed for IV fluid replacement.

Stopping the medication and taking anti-diarrheal medicines can help manage severe diarrhea. Report persistent loose stools.

Pregnancy Complications

Cytotec may cause pregnancy loss, preterm birth, fetal distress, and uterine hyperstimulation when incorrectly used to induce labor. This is why it should be avoided in pregnancy unless medically essential.

Careful monitoring is critical if Cytotec is used in late pregnancy under doctor supervision. Report any concerning fetal symptoms immediately.

Rare But Serious Effects

In very rare cases, Cytotec may cause:

  • Uterine infection
  • Sepsis
  • Kidney problems
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Heart issues
  • Bronchospasm

These unlikely but serious complications highlight the need for caution with Cytotec. Stay alert for any severe reactions.

Risk Factors for Side Effects

Certain patients are at increased risk of adverse effects from Cytotec:

  • Pregnant women – Avoid use unless essential
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – May worsen diarrhea
  • Immunosuppression – Greater risk of infections
  • Elderly patients – More likely to experience side effects
  • Children – Safety not established

Cytotec should be used with caution in these groups under strict medical supervision due to enhanced risks.

Tips to Reduce Side Effects

Here are some tips to help minimize side effects when taking Cytotec:

  • Take with food to reduce GI upset
  • Stay hydrated and consider anti-diarrheal medicine
  • Limit alcohol intake as it can worsen GI effects
  • Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration
  • Follow dosage instructions carefully
  • Report severe, persistent, or concerning symptoms promptly
  • Avoid pregnancy and use backup contraception

Using Cytotec responsibly under medical supervision offers the best chance of a good outcome. But be aware of potential side effects and how to manage them.

When to Seek Emergency Care

Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following after taking Cytotec:

  • Shortness of breath or throat swelling
  • Rash, itching, or skin peeling
  • Dizziness, weakness, or fainting
  • Blurred vision or slurred speech
  • Chest pain or palpitations
  • Severe stomach pain or cramping
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Severe diarrhea lasting over 24 hours

Do not wait with severe symptoms as delaying treatment can be dangerous. Call 911 or go to an emergency room right away.


Cytotec has a range of possible side effects, most of which are mild. But serious reactions like anaphylaxis, heavy bleeding, and uterine rupture may rarely occur. Using the lowest effective dose, taking with food, and avoiding pregnancy can help keep side effects to a minimum. However, seek prompt medical care for severe reactions after taking Cytotec.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common side effect of Cytotec?

Diarrhea is the most common side effect, occurring in up to 28% of patients taking Cytotec. Nausea, abdominal pain, and headache are also frequent.

How long do Cytotec side effects last?

Most side effects resolve within 1-2 weeks as the body adjusts. But some like diarrhea and stomach pain can persist long-term during treatment in some cases.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Cytotec?

Alcohol can further irritate the stomach and worsen GI side effects. Avoid drinking alcohol when taking Cytotec, especially if you have stomach ulcers.

Does Cytotec cause yeast infections?

No, yeast infections are not a known side effect. But vaginal yeast infections may occur secondary to antibiotic use in some women taking Cytotec.

Can Cytotec change your menstrual cycle?

Yes, Cytotec can sometimes lead to menstrual irregularities like heavier bleeding, spotting between periods, or altered cycle length. These typically resolve after stopping the medication.

How can you prevent diarrhea from Cytotec?

Taking Cytotec with food, staying hydrated, and using anti-diarrheal medications can help reduce the chance of diarrhea or lessen symptoms.

Does Cytotec cause hair loss?

No, hair loss is not a recognized side effect of Cytotec. Any hair shedding is likely coincidental and due to other causes.

Can men take Cytotec?

Yes, Cytotec can be used in men to help prevent stomach ulcers. Side effects like diarrhea and abdominal discomfort may occur.

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