(CNN) -- Misoprostol (brand name Cytotec) is used to prevent stomach ulcers in people who take certain arthritis and pain medicines, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is only available by prescription.
Misoprostol is used in combination with mifepristone (the 'abortion pill') to end an early pregnancy. Mifepristone is taken first, followed by misoprostol. Misoprostol causes cramps and heavy bleeding. Most women abort within a few days, some within four or five hours, according to Planned Parenthood.
Misoprostol is sometimes used to induce contractions to begin labor; it is also sometimes used to decrease blood loss after delivery of a baby. Neither of these uses is approved by the FDA.