Medicine for treating an incomplete miscarriage

If you have had an incomplete miscarriage with no complications, you may have the option of using medicine that causes the uterus to push out all remaining tissue. Treatment with medicine offers an alternative to surgical treatment or waiting for the miscarriage to complete. Some women may have more bleeding and cramping if they choose medicine treatment.

Mifepristone (RU 486) and misoprostol, medicines that are more commonly used to terminate first-trimester pregnancy, have been used on a limited basis to treat miscarriage. First, mifepristone acts to block the body's use of progesterone, a hormone that supports pregnancy. Then, misoprostol is used to soften the cervix and start uterine contractions, inducing the uterus to empty.

Misoprostol can be used alone to treat miscarriage.

Medicines used to complete a miscarriage may have side effects:

  • Mifepristone can cause belly pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.1
  • Misoprostol can cause belly pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and/or chills.2
  • Methergine that is used to decrease bleeding can cause sudden high blood pressure, so it is used carefully.

Methylergonovine (Methergine), a medicine that makes blood vessels constrict throughout the body, is commonly used to control uterine bleeding after a miscarriage. Methergine makes the uterus contract, which helps control blood loss.


  1. Ankum WM, et al. (2001). Management of spontaneous miscarriage in the first trimester: An example of putting informed shared decision-making into practice. BMJ, 322(7298): 1343–1346.
  2. Goldberg AB, et al. (2001). Misoprostol and pregnancy. New England Journal of Medicine, 344(1): 38–47.

Last Updated: May 7, 2009

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