Cytotec Vs Pitocin: A Detailed Comparison Of Labor Inducing Drugs

cytotec vs pitocin

Cytotec vs Pitocin – in this article, we’ll make a detailed comparison of both these powerful drugs used for inducing labor.

Introduction

Labor induction is a procedure by which the otherwise naturally occurring labor pains are artificially induced. This is normally done to speed up the process.

Cytotec and Pitocin are drugs used either separately or in combination to induce labor. Both belong to a different class of medications and their efficacy is also varied.

In this article, we put Cytotec vs Pitocin to compare both these drugs on parameters such as their uses, side effects, dosage, and efficiency.

Cytotec vs Pitocin: Composition

Cytotec contains misoprostol, a synthetic prostaglandin (compounds that have hormone-like effects).

On the other hand, Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin (a hormone produced naturally inside the body which causes contractions).

Cytotec vs Pitocin: Uses

Because the ingredients of both the drugs are different, their uses are also different.

Uses Of Cytotec

These are some of the uses of Cytotec:

1. Gastric Ulcers

Cytotec is an FDA-approved drug for reducing the risk of gastric ulcers that occur as a result of NSAID (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug) use. It lowers the amount of acid produced in your stomach, thus preventing ulceration. It is especially used in patients who have a history of ulcer formation and are undergoing NSAID therapy for any medical condition.

2. Induction of Labor

Although such usage is not backed by proper research, Cytotec is often used off-label to induce labor. In these cases, it is usually administered in conjunction with oxytocin.

To promote quicker action, Cytotec pills are inserted vaginally. This way mifepristone gets absorbed fast and provides better on-site bioavailability of the drug.

3. Abortion

The use of Cytotec in the early stages of pregnancy causes abortion. Sometimes, an obstetrician will prescribe it off-label to medically terminate an unwanted pregnancy. In such cases, you will be given an initial dose of mifepristone before the administration of Cytotec 48 hours later.

4. Cervical Ripening

Misoprostol is known to promote the opening of the mouth of the cervix and its dilatation. This is known as cervical ripening. As an induced procedure, this is done when a woman opts for abortion in the first or second trimester. Since the cervix does not naturally ripen until the very late stages of pregnancy, its external induction is necessary if vaginal delivery of the products of pregnancy is preferred.

Additionally, certain gynecological procedures in women who are not pregnant also require the preparation of the cervix. These can be IUD insertion, hysteroscopy (examination of the uterus), and biopsy of the endometrium.

Cytotec can be given to help dilate the cervix for easy access to the instruments needed in these procedures. This prevents physical injury to the mouth of the cervix when such instruments are inserted through it.

5. Management of Miscarriage

If a woman’s pregnancy gets terminated on its own, it is known as a miscarriage. When such an unfortunate event occurs, it is necessary to remove the products of pregnancy from the woman’s womb.

Cytotec is an option to help deliver these products from the vagina.

6. Preventing Postpartum Blood Loss

Postpartum (after delivery) blood loss, aka postpartum hemorrhage or PPH, is a serious cause of distress after delivery but especially after caesarean birth. Stopping the blood loss is vital to restore the uterus to its normal position as well as size, not to mention important for the woman’s health and safety.

Cytotec is an optional treatment for the prevention of PPH.

Uses Of Pitocin

Pitocin is used in the following conditions:

1. Labor Induction

In pregnant women where artificial induction of labor is indicated due to medical reasons, Pitocin can be given either alone or in combination with misoprostol. These cause stimulation of uterine contractions, ultimately leading to delivery.

2. Prevention of Postpartum Hemorrhage

Pitocin causes constriction of uterine blood vessels. This is helpful to control bleeding from the uterus after delivery.

Cytotec vs Pitocin: Dosage

The dosage of both these drugs depends on the purpose they are being used for.

Dosage Of Cytotec

These are the common dosage regimens of Cytotec:

1. For Prevention of Gastric Ulcers

The dose of Cytotec for preventing ulcers associated with NSAID use is 200 micrograms four times a day. The medication is taken as an oral tablet and with food.

2. For Induction of Labor

The recommended route of administration for labor induction in women is vaginal. 25 micrograms of the drug are placed inside the vagina every 4 hours with the maximum dose at 150 micrograms. As soon as the gap between consequent contractions approaches 4 minutes, no more doses are given.

3. For Abortion

400 micrograms of the drug are given orally to induce an abortion.

Also read: MTP Kit FAQs

4. For Cervical Ripening

It is given in doses of 400 micrograms of misoprostol vaginally every 3 to 4 hours, 400 micrograms orally every 8 to 12 hours or 400 micrograms below the tongue 2 to 4 hours before curettage. These doses result in the effective preparation of the cervix before any invasive procedure.

Dosage Of Pitocin

Pitocin is usually used as an IV infusion or as an injectable. The normal dosage of the drug is as follows:

1. For Induction of Labor

The starting dose is 0.5-1 milliunit per minute, which contains 3 to 6 mL of diluted oxytocin. Until the desired intensity and frequency of contractions are achieved, the dose should be increased by gradually stepping it up by 1 to 2 milliunits per minute.

2. For Controlling Postpartum Bleeding

1 mL of Pitocin is given as an intramuscular injection to stop uterine bleeding after delivery.

Cytotec vs Pitocin: Side Effects

As with any other drug, Cytotec and Pitocin also have certain side effects that are linked with their use. Here is a list of the side effects of both drugs.

Cytotec Side Effects

The side effects of Cytotec can be grouped into common and rare categories. Commonly occurring side effects are usually mild. They include:

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Acidity and heartburn

Some less common or rare side effects that can occur when you use this medication and might require immediate medical attention are:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Painful menstruation
  • Dizziness

Pitocin Side Effects

The common adverse effects associated with Pitocin use are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Redness at the site of the injection

Rarely occurring side effects include the following:

  • Prolonged heavy bleeding
  • Fainting
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Hallucinations

Cytotec vs Pitocin: Warnings

While taking these drugs, there is a need to exercise caution as the side effects they cause can be pretty serious.

Warnings Of Cytotec Use

You should keep the following things in mind before taking Cytotec:

  • It should not be used without a valid prescription.
  • It should be avoided by pregnant women who want to safely continue their pregnancy.
  • Cytotec has been known to cause birth defects when taken by pregnant women. Thus, its use on such women is not recommended.
  • Cytotec should not be used in women with a history of caesarean section as it can cause uterine rupture through increased contractions.
  • Misoprostol gets excreted in breast milk. To avoid unwanted effects in infants, breastfeeding mothers should not take Cytotec without consulting a doctor.

Warnings Of Pitocin Use

Remember the following when you start taking Pitocin:

  • Pitocin should be used in the minimal effective dose as it is associated with hyperstimulation of the uterus when taken in high doses.
  • It should not be used in cases of fetal distress, premature pregnancy, placenta previa (placenta covering the cervical opening), and in patients with a history of caesarean section.
  • This drug should not be used in patients with high blood pressure.

Cytotec vs Pitocin: Effectiveness

Cytotec and Pitocin are both highly effective in managing the conditions they are prescribed for. However, the use of Pitocin is often linked with several dangerous side effects as well as an increased risk of complications. For this reason, the use of Pitocin is only recommended under continuous medical supervision.

Cytotec, on the other hand, is FDA approved for treating gastric ulcers. Other uses of the drug are off-label, yet with a lesser risk of adverse reactions as compared to Pitocin.

Conclusion

Cytotec and Pitocin have various uses ranging from induction of labor to causing abortion. Comparing these drugs provides necessary information that can lead to their judicious use.

In this analysis of Cytotec vs Pitocin, we have discussed their uses, side effects, dosage, warnings, as well as their effectiveness to help you arrive at a decision regarding their appropriate use.

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