Mifepristone and Misoprostol

Mifepristone, also known as RU-486 or the ‘abortion pill’, used together with misoprostol is the most commonly used medical abortion combination worldwide. In 2001, the only Canadian trial of Mifepristone was stopped after the death of a woman from toxic shock brought on by a bacterial infection related to her abortion; similar deaths were recorded elsewhere. In 2015, RU-486 was legalized in Canada.

Mifepristone causes abortion by blocking the action of progesterone.  Progesterone prepares the uterine lining for implantation and is essential for maintenance of the pregnancy.  Progesterone also suppresses uterine contractions. Mifepristone causes the uterine lining to break down, resulting in detachment of the embryo from its source of nutrition.  It causes the cervix to soften and dilate.  It also makes the body release prostaglandins and increases the effects of these prostaglandins in causing the uterus to contract. Mifepristone/Misoprostol abortions are quicker than methotrexate/misoprostol abortions.  Both regimens have similar rates of complete abortion, side effects and complications.  Serious infection and heavy, prolonged bleeding are the most notable side effects, along with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and headache.

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All information provided regarding medical and surgical abortions in Canada has provided by:
Abortionincanada.ca, (2014). Methods | Abortion in Canada. [online] Available at:  http://abortionincanada.ca/methods/

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