What Is Medroxyprogesterone Intramuscular Injection Used For?

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection for preventing pregnancy or relieving the symptoms of kidney or endometrial cancer. There are also times when a healthcare provider may recommend medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection for unapproved (off-label) uses, such as relieving symptoms of menopause, endometriosis, or prostate cancer. This drug is typically not recommended for use in children or adolescents, as it may cause bone problems.

An Overview of Uses for Medroxyprogesterone Intramuscular Injection

Medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection (Depo-Provera®) is an injectable hormone medication that contains medroxyprogesterone, a form of progesterone. It is approved to prevent pregnancy and to ease the symptoms of advanced kidney cancer and endometrial cancer.

Medroxyprogesterone Intramuscular Injection Use to Prevent Pregnancy

Medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection is an injectable birth control option that offers an alternative to birth control pills (oral contraceptives). It is sometimes called "the birth control shot." This medicine is given via an intramuscular injection (an injection into the muscle).
Medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection is similar to the contraceptive depo-subQ Provera 104™ (medroxyprogesterone subcutaneous injection). However, the depo-subQ Provera injection is given in the layer of tissue just below the skin (a subcutaneous, or subQ, injection), rather than into a muscle like medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection. Both medications contain medroxyprogesterone as their active ingredient and are given every three months to prevent pregnancy.
There are a few reasons why a woman may choose medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection over other birth control methods. This product is a long-acting contraceptive; each shot protects against pregnancy for three months. Some women may find this convenient, as there is no need to remember to take a daily birth control pill. Some women may also find medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection discrete, because it can be given in the privacy of your healthcare provider's office.
In addition, medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection is a progestin-only birth control, which means, unlike most hormonal birth control, it does not contain estrogen. This makes it a good choice for women who should not use estrogen. For example, it is not usually recommended for women to use estrogen within the four weeks after childbirth, as it can increase the risk for a serious blood clot. Estrogen can also decrease breast milk production.
Medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection has some disadvantages to consider as well. Because the contraceptive is long-acting, bothersome side effects may persist until the medication has been removed from the bloodstream. In addition, if you want to become pregnant, you will have to wait until your last shot has worn off. This can take many months. Studies suggest that the average time to pregnancy is 10 months after stopping medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection; however, some women may not be able to conceive for several years.
Medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection can negatively affect bone health. Because of its effects on the bones, it should generally not be used for birth control for longer than two years, unless other forms of birth control are not an option (see Precautions and Warnings With Medroxyprogesterone Intramuscular Injection for more information).
It is important to know that medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many situations, it is advisable to use condoms in addition to this product to prevent the transmission of STDs.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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