Bleeding patterns after vaginal misoprostol for treatment of early pregnancy failure

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Dilatation and curettage (D&C) has been the usual treatment for early pregnancy failure (EPF). Medical management with misoprostol may be an effective alternative. Bleeding patterns during and after medical management of EPF are unknown.


A prospective cohort study was conducted at University-based clinics and physician offices. Eighty women <11 weeks estimated gestational age with a diagnosis of missed abortion or fetal demise were enrolled. Treatment consisted of either 800 µg of moistened (2 ml of saline) or dry vaginal misoprostol. Self-reported bleeding and sanitary product usage were recorded in a daily 2 week diary. Haemoglobin was assessed at enrolment and 2 weeks later.


After misoprostol treatment, patients reported bleeding or spotting every day for the 14 days observed. Self-assessed heavy bleeding days were few (median 3) and usually occurred immediately after treatment. Sanitary pad use was highly variable (mean 30.5, range 2–125 pads over the 2 week period) and not related to changes in haemoglobin. The mean decrease in haemoglobin was 0.5 g/dl (SD 1.2). Complete expulsion without D&C occurred in 85% of subjects.


Bleeding for at least 2 weeks after vaginal misoprostol for EPF is common. Heavy bleeding is usually limited to a few days after treatment. Clinically important changes in haemoglobin are rare.

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