What is Depo-Provera?
Depo-Provera is an injectable contraception used to preventpregnancy. Part of a class of medications called "progestins", Depo-Proveraworks by preventing ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries), and by thinningthe uterine lining. Depo-Provera was approved by the U.S. Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) in 1992.
While Depo-Provera acts as birth control, it does notprevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other sexuallytransmitted diseases (STDs).
Depo-Provera FDA Alert
In November 2004, the FDA announced that a "black box"warning would be added to the labeling of Depo-Provera ContraceptiveInjection. The label warns Depo-Proverausers that prolonged use may result in the loss of bone density, and that theloss may be greater the longer the drug is administered. This bone density loss may not be completelyreversible after discontinuation of Depo-Provera use. The warning goes on to state that a womanshould only use Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection as a long-term birthcontrol method (e.g., longer than two years) if other birth control methodsprove inadequate.
In addition to the black box warning, Depo-Proveramanufacturer Pfizer issued a "Dear Health Care Practitioner" letter regardingthe effect of long-term treatment on bone mineral density, and incorporated thenew information into the patient information sheet distributed with Depo-Provera. More information: 11/17/04 FDA Alert.
What Should I KnowBefore Using Depo-Provera?
Depo-Provera is usually administered by a health careprovider in an office or clinic. Youmust receive your first Depo-Provera injection only at a time when there is nopossibility that you are pregnant. If you have been using a different method ofbirth control and are switching to Depo-Provera, your health care professionalwill tell you when you should receive your first injection.
Your menstrual cycle will probably change while you areusing Depo-Provera. At first, your periods will probably be irregular, and youmay experience spotting between periods. If you continue to use Depo-Provera,your periods may stop completely. Your menstrual cycle will probably return tonormal some time after you stop using Depo-Provera.
Depo-Provera is a long-acting birth control method. Youmight not become pregnant for some time after you receive your last injection.Talk to your healthcare professional about the effects of Depo Provera if youplan to become pregnant in the near future.
You should have a complete physical exam -- including bloodpressure measurements, breast and pelvic exams, and a pap test -- at leastyearly. Follow your healthcare professional's directions for self-examiningyour breasts; report any lumps immediately.
Before you have any laboratory tests, tell the laboratorypersonnel that you are using Depo-Provera.
If you are younger than 35 years old and began to receiveDepo-Provera in the last 4-5 years, you may have a slightly increased risk thatyou will develop breast cancer. Depo-Provera may also increase the chance thatyou will develop a blood clot that moves to your lungs or brain. Talk to yourhealthcare professional about the risks of using Depo-Provera.
Depo-Provera may cause side effects. Tell your healthcareprofessional if any of these symptoms are severe or persistent:
- changes in menstrual periods
- weight gain
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- hot flashes
- breast pain, swelling, or tenderness
- stomach cramps or bloating
- leg cramps
- back or joint pain
- loss of hair on scalp
- swelling, redness, irritation, burning, or itching of the vagina
- white vaginal discharge
- changes in sexual desire
- cold or flu symptoms
- pain, irritation, lumps, redness or scarring in the place where the medication was injected
Some side effects can be serious. The following side effectsare uncommon, but if you experience any of them, call your healthcareprofessional immediately:
- sudden shortness of breath
- sudden sharp or crushing chest pain
- coughing up blood
- severe headache
- upset stomach
- dizziness or faintness
- change or loss of vision
- double vision
- bulging eyes
- difficulty speaking
- weakness or numbness in an arm or leg
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- extreme tiredness
- pain, swelling, warmth, redness, or tenderness in one leg only
- menstrual bleeding that is heavier or lasts longer than normal
- severe pain or tenderness just below the waist
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficult, painful, or frequent urination
- constant pain, pus, warmth, swelling, or bleeding in the place where the medication was injected
Depo-Provera Special Dietary Instructions
While takingDepo-Provera, you should eat plenty of foods that are rich in calcium andvitamin D, in order to help decrease the loss of calcium in your bones. Yourhealthcare professional should be able to recommend foods that are good sourcesof these nutrients, suggest the number of servings you need each day, and/orrecommend the use of calcium or vitamin D supplements.
Depo-Provera - GettingLegal Help
While all medications have certain anticipated side effects,a drug manufacturer has a duty to make its products as reasonably safe aspossible, and to inform the medical community and the public of known risksassociated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be heldlegally responsible if patients are injured as the result of inadequatewarnings or the unreasonably dangerous nature of the drug, under a legal theorycalled "product liability."
If you or a loved one have experienced any dangerous symptomsor unusual medical conditions while using Depo-Provera, you should firstcontact your doctor or other healthcare professional. You may also wish to meetwith an experienced attorney to discuss your options and to protect your rightto a legal remedy for any injuries caused by Depo-Provera use.
Go here to learn more about an attorney's role in a pharmaceutical liability case.
To find an experienced attorney, use the "Find a Lawyer" tool on this page, or click here.