November 2021

Misoprostol-alone medication abortion is safe and effective

Ibis Reproductive Health.  Misoprostol-alone medication abortion is safe and effective. November 2021. 

The World Health Organization recommends two regimens for safe and effective medication abortion care throughout pregnancy: (1) misoprostol on its own, and (2) mifepristone in combination with misoprostol. These medications, when used correctly, successfully terminate 80-95% of pregnancies without the need for surgical intervention, depending on regimen and pregnancy duration.

Misoprostol alone is likely the most common method of medication abortion used worldwide—largely because it is available in many places over the counter without a prescription and at a low cost. The use of misoprostol in self-managed medication abortion—defined here as when a person takes pills on their own to end a pregnancy without clinical supervision—has risen globally, and is widely credited with declines in maternal morbidity and mortality.

Studies of self-managed use of misoprostol-alone regimens have found high levels of effectiveness, with 93-99% of participants reporting complete abortions without the need for surgical intervention. While both regimens of medication abortion are safe and effective, it is important to note that misoprostol alone is an acceptable regimen for abortion care that, with increased accessibility, has the potential to greatly expand access to medication abortion in a variety of contexts.