The knowledge and use of misoprostol among women in a Nigerian population

Abidoye Gbadegesin, Ayokunle Olumodeji, Yusuf A. Oshodi, Oladimeji Makinde, Haleemah Olalere, Boniface A. Oye-Adeniran


Background: Increasing the availability and accessibility of misoprostol in low resource settings has been advocated to reduce maternal deaths from primary postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). WHO recommends a strategy of antenatal distribution of misoprostol to pregnant women, for self-administration for the prevention of PPH, in settings where women are likely to give birth outside of a health facility or in the absence of skilled health personnel. The success of such strategies depends on the current knowledge and acceptability of misoprostol among women in such population. The aim of this study was that we assessed the knowledge and use of misoprostol among Nigerian women.

Methods: It was a prospective cross-sectional population based survey in which 16445 consenting women, from randomly selected households and communities across the 20 local government areas (LGA) of Lagos state, had in-depth interview with the aid of an interviewer administered structured questionnaire to assess their knowledge and use of misoprostol. Data obtained were presented in frequency and proportions.

Results: Thirteen per cent and 6.5% of the respondents were aware of drugs that could be used to terminate pregnancy and stop bleeding following childbirth, respectively. Only 5.2% of the women were aware of misoprostol, two-third (67%) of which knew it could be used to terminate pregnancy and 5% of women aware of misoprostol knew it could be used to reduce or stop bleeding following childbirth. Only 2.3% of the entire study population admitted to personal use of misoprostol.

Conclusions: Knowledge about the safe, life-saving and effective use of misoprostol among Nigerian women is low. There is need to disseminate information about misoprostol especially in settings where women are likely to give birth outside of a health facility or in the absence of skilled health personnel.



Misoprostol, Cytotec, Misoprostol use

Full Text:



Wilson KS, Garcia SG, Lara D. Misoprostol use and its impact on measuring abortion incidence and morbidity. Methodologies for Estimating Abortion Incidence and Abortion-Related Morbidity: A Review. New York, NY: Guttmacher Institute; 2010: 191-201.

Tang J, Kapp N, Dragoman M, Souza JPD. WHO recommendations for misoprostol use for obstetric and gynecologic indications. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2013;121(2):186-9.

World Health Organization. Priority Life-Saving Medicines for Women and Children 2012. World Health Organization; Geneva, Switzerland: 2012. WHO/EMP/MAR/2012.1. Accessed on 10 April, 2021

Say L, Chou D, Gemmill A, Tunçalp Ö, Moller AB, Daniels J, et al. Global causes of maternal death: a WHO systematic analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2014;2(6):323-33.

Fernandez MM, Coeytaux F, León RGD, Harrison DL. Assessing the global availability of misoprostol. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009;105(2):180-6.

WHO recommendation on advance misoprostol distribution to pregnant women for prevention of postpartum haemorrhage. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. nses/by-nc-sa/3.0/igo). Accessed on 10 April, 2021.

Prata N, Passano P, Bell S, Rowen T, Potts M. New hope: community-based misoprostol use to prevent postpartum haemorrhage. Health Policy Plan. 2012;28(4):339-46.

Smith HJ, Colvin CJ, Richards E, Roberson J, Sharma G, Thapa K, et al. Programmes for advance distribution of misoprostol to prevent post-partum haemorrhage: a rapid literature review of factors affecting implementation. Health Policy Plan. 2015;31(1):102-13.

Stillman M, Owolabi O, Fatusi AO, Akinyemi AI, Berry AL, Erinfolami TP, et al. Women’s self-reported experiences using misoprostol obtained from drug sellers: a prospective cohort study in Lagos State, Nigeria BMJ Open. 2020;10(5):034670.

Maternowska MC, Mashu A, Moyo P, Withers M, Chipato T. Perceptions of misoprostol among providers and women seeking post-abortion care in Zimbabwe. Reproduct Health Matter. 2014;22(44):16-25.

Rosing MA, Archbald CD. The knowledge, acceptability, and use of misoprostol for self-induced medical abortion in an urban US population. J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). 2000;55(3):183-5.