The side effects of mifepristone and misprostol are similar, but misoprostol is more likely than mifepristone to cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and headache. After taking these medicines, you may experience one or more of the common or very common side effects listed below, or you may not experience any of them:
- abdominal cramps, pain or discomfort
- chills and fever (a temperature of 37.5°C or higher)
- breast tenderness
- hot flushes, skin rashes or itching.
Talk to your health professional about possible side effects from these medicines before taking them. If any of these side effects — or any other unexpected effects — concern you during the medical termination process, speak to your health professional.
Vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain and cramping are the expected effects of these medicines and, although unpleasant, they indicate that the termination is progressing as it should.
If you don't experience vaginal bleeding, abdominal cramps and contractions of the uterus within 4 hours of taking misoprostol (the second medicine), this may indicate that the medical termination has failed. If this happens to you, visit a doctor urgently.
Signs of more-serious complications
If you experience a serious complication, you should be prepared and willing to access emergency medical help.
The following serious complications have been known to occur after termination of pregnancy with mifepristone/misprostol.
Vaginal bleeding that is not heavy can continue for 10–16 days after a medical termination. If you continue to have bleeding after this, or if you are concerned about the amount or nature of bleeding at any time after having a medical termination, see your doctor.
If you experience heavy vaginal bleeding for more than 2 days after a medical termination, see a health professional immediately. Up to 4 in 1000 women will experience severe bleeding that requires a blood transfusion.
Infection of the organs or tissues in the pelvic region is an uncommon but serious complication that may occur in fewer than 1 in 100 women after a medical termination. If you have an infection, you may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- fever (37.5°C or higher)
- malaise (generally feeling unwell)
- persistent abdominal pain or tenderness
- offensive-smelling vaginal discharge.
Failure of the procedure
There is a chance (about 7 in 100 women) that taking mifepristone/misoprostol will not result in a successful termination of pregnancy. About 2 in every 100 of these women will need further medicines prescribed by their doctor to complete the termination, and about 5 in every 100 women will need to have a surgical termination if the medical termination fails.
Not taking misoprostol bucally, as instructed by your doctor, could lead to a higher chance of failure for pregnancies beyond 7 weeks.
Continuing with a pregnancy if the medical termination has failed is strongly not advised because the developing embryo may have been harmed or deformed.
Unsuccessful termination can also lead to serious complications, so it's important to get medical help urgently if you think this has happened. Ongoing bleeding, with or without signs of an infection, may suggest an unsuccessful termination. However, it's essential to have a follow-up visit with your doctor 14–21 days after the treatment — or sooner if requested by your doctor — even if you don't have any signs of a complication.
Visit your doctor, go to your nearest emergency department, or call for an ambulance if you experience any of the symptoms of serious complications described above during or after your medical termination.
For a more-complete list of possible side effects, see the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) for Mifepristone Linepharma (mifepristone) and for GyMiso (misoprostol), available from your doctor, MS Health or through the NPS MedicineWise Medicine Finder.
If a side effect is described as very common, this means that in clinical trials at least 10 out of 100 people experienced that side effect.
If a side effect is described as common, this means that in clinical trials, more than 1, but fewer than 10 out of 100 people experienced that side effect.
A clinical trial is a research study conducted with patients that compares one treatment with one or more other treatments, to assess its effectiveness and safety.
Ask your health professional about the possible side effects of a medicine before you take it. Always tell your health professional about any changes to your condition.
If you have a question about the side effects of your medicine call Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424). To report possible side effects call the Adverse Medicine Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237.