Highlights for leuprolide
Leuprolide is an injected drug used to decrease symptoms of advanced prostate cancer in men. It’s used to treat endometriosis and uterine fibroids in women. It’s also used to treat central precocious puberty (CPP). This condition causes children to enter puberty earlier than normal.
Common side effects include hot flashes, sweating, tiredness, headache, acne, general body aches and pain, skin rash, weight gain, mood changes, decreased sex drive (libido), and breast tenderness or size changes.
Leuprolide is given as an injection into your muscle or under your skin. You may be able to take some forms of leuprolide at home, but others are only given in a doctor’s office.
If your leuprolide needs to be given in the doctor’s office, you should go to all of your appointments. It’s important to stick to the schedule your doctor prescribes for this medicine to work.
You shouldn’t use leuprolide if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It can harm your unborn baby. Ask your doctor about effective birth control options.
What is leuprolide?
This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you need to take it with other drugs.
Why it's used
Leuprolide have several uses.
How it works
Leuprolide belongs to a drug class called gonadotropin-releasing hormone analog.
leuprolide Side Effects
More Common Side Effects
The adult side effects for this drug are slightly different from the side effects for children.
Some of the more common side effects of taking this drug include:
- hot flashes or sweating
- muscle and joint pain
- mood changes, such as depression or emotion changes
- weight changes
- burning, itching, swelling, or redness at the injection site
- discharge, itching, or pain in the vagina (vaginitis) in females
- vaginal spotting (bleeding) or menstrual period in females
Adults may also experience:
- decrease in the size of your testicles (testicular atrophy) in men
- decreased sex drive (libido)
- breast changes, such as pain, tenderness, or size changes
- swelling of your hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- pain, burning, or tingling in your hands or feet
- flu-like symptoms, such as fever and body aches
- trouble remembering things
Children may also experience:
- skin rash
irritation at the injection site. Symptoms include:
- redness, itching, and pain
- mood changes (being more emotional)
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious Side Effects
If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
Changes in bone density. This raises your risk for bone fractures or osteoporosis.
Pituitary problems. Leuprolide may damage your pituitary gland, which produces hormones. Symptoms may include:
- sudden headache
- changes in your vision or problems moving your eyes
Loss of your ability to move (paralysis) due to the tumor increasing in size
Heart problems, such as:
- heart attack. Symptoms include:
- squeezing pain in your chest
- shortness of breath
- pain that moves to your arms or back
- stroke. Symptoms include:
- severe headache
- sudden weakness or numbness (especially on one side of your body)
- changes in your vision
- trouble speaking
- heart attack. Symptoms include:
High blood sugar and diabetes. Symptoms include:
- feeing very hungry
- feeling very thirsty
- needing to urinate often
- blurry vision
- cuts that take longer to heal
Depression. Symptoms include:
- changes in your mood
- feeling extremely sad
- feeling worthless
- sleeping more or less than usual
Trouble remembering things
Leuprolide doesn’t cause drowsiness.
leuprolide May Interact with Other Medications
Leuprolide can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. Your healthcare provider will look out for interactions with your current medications. Always be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, herbs, or vitamins you’re taking.
How to Take leuprolide (Dosage)
Your doctor will determine a dose that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dose. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your doctor or nurse administers the drug to you.
Leuprolide comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.
If you don’t take it at all or skip or miss doses/appointments
If you don’t take this drug as prescribed, your prostate cancer symptoms may get worse or your child will enter puberty much earlier than normal.
If you’re taking this drug for endometriosis or uterine fibroids, you may have breakthrough bleeding or ovulation. Ovulation can cause you to get pregnant if you aren’t using effective birth control. Your symptoms of endometriosis or uterine fibroids may also not get better.
If you take too much
If you take too much, you may have more side effects caused by this drug. If you think you’ve taken too much of the drug, act right away. Call your doctor or local poison control center, or go to the nearest emergency room.
What to do if you miss a dose/appointment
It’s important to go to all of your appointments to take your doses on schedule.
If you’re unable to make your appointment, let your doctor know. You’ll have to reschedule your appointment as soon as possible.
How to tell if the drug is working
If you’re taking this drug for prostate cancer, your symptoms should decrease. Note that this drug isn’t a cure for prostate cancer. Your doctor will also do tests to check your testosterone levels and your prostate specific antigen (PSA) to make sure that leuprolide is working for you.
If your child is taking this drug for central precocious puberty (CPP), their doctor will do tests to make sure the treatment is working. They may check levels of sex hormones and measure their height and bone growth.
If you’re taking this drug for endometriosis, you may feel less pain in your pelvic area, during your menstrual periods, and during intercourse.
If you’re taking this drug for uterine fibroids, you may feel decreased stomach swelling or fullness, pelvic pain, and pressure and less vaginal bleeding.
Leuprolide is used for short-term treatment.
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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group
Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on October 2, 2015