Assumption: Cytotec is a benign drug used to help the cervix ripen before Pitocin is used to induce labor.
Although Cytotec is often used to ripen the cervix, there are dangers associated with this drug that was developed to treat ulcers. Compared to other ripening agents, Cytotec (misoprostol) does have advantages. It is inexpensive, easy to store, and does cause uterine contractions that often achieve labor within 24 hours. Unfortunately, uterine hyperstimulation was increased and meconium staining were more frequent. According to the authors, “The apparent increase in uterine hyperstimulation is of concern.” They also note that there were not enough cases studied to rule out “the possibility of rare but serious adverse events, particularly uterine rupture, which has been reported anecdotally following misoprostol use in women with and without previous caesarean section.” The authors of the study recommend further research and guidelines for the medical community in using this drug.
Since there is a choice between Cytotec and other ripening agents (such as Cervidil and Prepidil), I see no reason to risk uterine hyperstimulation. Unlike Pitocin, which is given continuously through an IV, Cytotec is administered in pill form and once it is in the woman’s system cannot be removed. These facts send up red flags to me. Further, the company that makes Cytotec recommends *against* its use with pregnant women and it is not FDA approved for the purpose of induction. In my mind, all this adds up to waiting for more conclusive research on the safety of this drug.