Depo-Provera refers to an injectable contraception which is used to prevent pregnancy. This belongs to a class of treatments known as “progestins.” Depo-Provera works by preventing the ovulation or the release of eggs from the ovaries, and by weakening the uterine lining. Depo-Provera was granted the approval in 1992 by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Although Depo-Provera serves as a birth control, it does not stop the spread of human immunodeficiency virus or simply known as HIV, or other sexually transmitted diseases or STDs.
FDA Warning: Depo-Provera
FDA issued a warning in November 2004 that a “black box” warning should be added to the labeling of the Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection. The label should warn the users of Depo-Provera that prolonged use can cause loss of bone density and this loss may be more the longer the drug is administered or taken. Loss of bone density may not be fully reversible after the patient stops from taking Depo-Provera. The alert goes on to say that a woman should only use Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection as a long-term birth control method, such as more than two years, if the other birth control method fails.
Aside from the black box warning, Pfizer, the manufacturer of Depo-Provera released a “Dear Health Care Practitioner” letter about the effects f long-term medication on bone mineral density, and combine the new information into the patient information sheet which is distributed with the Depo-Provera.
What should I know before taking Depo-Provera?
Depo-Provera is basically administered by a healthcare provider in a clinic or office. You must have your first Depo-Provera injection only at the period when it is impossible that you are pregnant. If you were using a different birth control method and you are planning to change to Depo-Provera, your healthcare professional will inform you when you must have your first injection.
Your menstrual period may change while using Depo-Provera. Initially, your periods may become irregular, and you may experience spotting between your periods. If you keep on using Depo-Provera, your periods may stop fully. Your menstrual cycle may be back to normal sometime after you discontinue using Depo-Provera.
Depo-Provera is a long-term birth control method. You will not be able to be pregnant for sometine after you have your last injection. Consult and discuss with your healthcare expert about the effects of Depo-Provera if you are planning to be pregnant in the near future.
You should undergo a thorough physical examination, including blood pressure, breast and pelvic tests, and a pap test annually. Adhere to the instructions of your healthcare expert for self-examining your breasts and if there is any lump, report it right away to your doctor or healthcare expert.
Before going through any laboratory test, inform the laboratory staff that you are taking Depo-Provera.
Depo-Provera: Its Health Risks
If you are below 35 years old and started receiving your Depo-Provera during the last 4 to 5 years, you may be subjected to develop breast cancer. Depo-Provera may also increase the risk of developing blood clot to your lungs and brain. Consult with your healthcare expert about the risks of using Depo-Provera.
Side Effects of Depo-Provera:
Inform your healthcare expert if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, persistently or severely:
- Changes in menstrual cycles
- Pain in the breast, swelling or tenderness
- Back or joint pain
- Stomach cramps or bloating
- Colds or flu symptoms
- Weight gain
- Difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep
- Hot flashes
- Cramps in the legs
- Loss of hair in the scalp
- Changes in sexual desire
- Pain, irritation, lumps, redness, or scarring in places where the treatment was injected
- Inflammation, irritation, redness, burning, or itching of the vagina
- White vaginal discharges
The following side effects are rare but these are serious and if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your healthcare personnel right away:
- Coughing with blood
- Abrupt shortness of breath
- Sudden sharp or crushing pain in the chest
- Difficulty in speaking
- Upset stomach
- Severe headache
- Difficulty in swallowing or breathing
- Faintness or dizziness
- Extreme tiredness
- Weakness and numbness in one leg or arm
- Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or the lower legs
- Pain, inflammation, warmth, redness, or tenderness in one leg only
- Acute pain or tenderness below the waist
- Heavy menstrual bleeding or period lasts longer than normal
- Difficulty, painful, or frequent urination
- Loss or change of vision, double vision
- Bulging eyes
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Persistent pain, warmth, swelling, bleeding in the place where the treatment was injected; presence of pus
Special Dietary Instructions for Users of Depo-Provera
While using Depo-Provera, you should eat a lot of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to help lower loss of calcium in your bones. Your healthcare expert will recommend foods that are good sources of the nutrients you need, suggest the quantity of servings you will need daily, and/or recommend calcium or vitamin D supplements.
Depo-Provera: Getting Legal Help
Since all medications have their probable side effects, the manufacturer of the drugs has an obligation to produce products that are safe for human use, and to inform the medical community and the general public of its potential risks related with its drugs. If the manufacturer is unable to do so, then it will be legally liable if the patients are injured as a consequence of insufficient warnings or the unreasonably harmful nature of the drug, under the legal theory known as “product liability.”
If you or any of your loved one has suffered with any of the symptoms or uncommon medical conditions while taking Depo-Provera, you must contact your doctor or healthcare professional. Then, you may find and discuss with an experienced lawyer about your legal options and safeguard your rights to legal remedy for the injury caused by using Depo-Provera.