Medroxyprogesterone, Injectable Suspension

Medically reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group on February 11, 2016Written by University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group on November 24, 2017

Highlights for medroxyprogesterone

  1. Medroxyprogesterone injection is a hormone medication that’s available as three brand-name drugs:
    • Depo-Provera, which is used to treat kidney cancer or cancer of the endometrium
    • Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection (CI), which is used as birth control
    • Depo-subQ Provera 104, which is used as birth control or as treatment for endometriosis pain
  2. Depo-Provera and Depo-Provera CI are available as generic drugs. Depo-subQ Provera 104 is not available as a generic drug.
  3. Medroxyprogesterone comes in two forms: an oral tablet and an injectable suspension. The injection is given by a healthcare provider at a clinic or hospital.

Important warnings

FDA warnings

  • This drug has black box warnings. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Black box warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.
  • Decreased bone mineral density warning: Medroxyprogesterone may cause a major decrease in bone mineral density in females. This causes a decrease in bone strength. This loss is greater the longer you use this drug, and may be permanent. Do not use medroxyprogesterone as birth control or treatment for endometriosis pain for longer than two years. It’s not known if this effect may increase the risk of fracture due to osteoporosis later in life.
  • No STD protection warning: Some forms of this drug are used to prevent pregnancy. However, all forms of this drug do not provide any protection against HIV infection or other sexually transmitted diseases.

Other warnings

  • Blood clots warning: Medroxyprogesterone raises your risk of blood clots. These clots can occur anywhere in your body. These could be fatal (cause death).
  • Ectopic pregnancy warning: Women who become pregnant while using this drug are at risk of ectopic pregnancy. This is when a fertilized egg implants outside of your uterus, such as in one of your fallopian tubes. Call your doctor right away if you have severe pain in your abdomen (stomach area) while taking this drug. This can be a symptom of ectopic pregnancy.

What is medroxyprogesterone?

Medroxyprogesterone injection is a prescription drug. It’s given by a healthcare provider at a clinic or hospital. You or your caregiver won’t be able to administer this drug at home.

Medroxyprogesterone injection is available as the brand-name drugs Depo-Provera, Depo-Provera CI, or Depo-subQ Provera 104. Depo-Provera and Depo-Provera CI are also available as generic drugs. Depo-subQ Provera 104 is not. Generic drugs usually cost less than brand-name versions. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as brand-name drugs.

Why it's used

Medroxyprogesterone injection use varies depending on the form used:

  • Depo-Provera is used to treat kidney cancer or cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus)
  • Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection (CI) is used as birth control
  • Depo-subQ Provera 104 is used as birth control or as treatment for endometriosis pain

How it works

Medroxyprogesterone belongs to a class of drugs called progestins. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Medroxyprogesterone is a form of progesterone, a hormone your body makes. Medroxyprogesterone can help regulate other hormones in your body. This drug works in different ways, depending on why your doctor is giving it to you.

  • Treatment of kidney or endometrial cancer: Estrogen is a hormone that helps the cancer cells grow. This drug decreases the amount of estrogen in your body.
  • Birth control: This drug prevents your body from releasing other hormones that it needs to ovulate (release an egg from your ovary) and for other reproductive processes. This action helps prevent pregnancy.
  • Relief of endometriosis pain: This drug works by decreasing the amount of estrogen in your body. The drug reduces pain, and may also help heal the lesions caused by endometriosis.

Medroxyprogesterone side effects

Medroxyprogesterone injectable suspension may cause drowsiness. It can also cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of medroxyprogesterone include:

  • irregular periods
  • nausea or pain in your abdomen (stomach area)
  • weight gain
  • headache
  • dizziness

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

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Decreased bone mineral density
  • Blood clots, which can cause:
    • stroke (from a clot in your brain), with symptoms such as:
      • trouble walking or speaking
      • sudden inability to move one side of your body
      • confusion
    • deep vein thrombosis (clot in your leg), with symptoms such as:
      • redness, pain, or swelling in your leg
    • pulmonary embolism (clot in your lung), with symptoms such as:
      • shortness of breath
      • coughing up blood

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we can not guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.

Medroxyprogesterone may interact with other medications

Medroxyprogesterone injectable suspension can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. 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.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we can not guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

Medroxyprogesterone warnings

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

Medroxyprogesterone can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • fever or chills
  • pain at the injection site
  • hives

If you develop these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

Alcohol interaction warning

Drinking alcohol raises your risk of low bone mineral density from medroxyprogesterone. If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with a history of blood clots or stroke: This drug raises your risk of blood clots. If you’ve had a blood clot or stroke in the past, talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

For people with a history of breast cancer: Medroxyprogesterone raises your risk of breast cancer. You should not use medroxyprogesterone if you’ve ever had breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

For people with liver problems: Your liver helps your body process this drug. Liver problems can lead to an increased level of this drug in your body, which can cause increased side effects. If you have liver problems or a history of liver disease, talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

Warnings for other groups

For pregnant women: Medroxyprogesterone is a category X pregnancy drug. Category X drugs should never be used during pregnancy.

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug. Women who can get pregnant should use reliable birth control while taking this drug.

For women who are breastfeeding: Medroxyprogesterone may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors: The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, a higher amount of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

For children: Medroxyprogesterone can decrease bone mineral density. If your adolescent daughter is taking this drug, you should discuss this risk with her doctor.

How to take medroxyprogesterone

Your doctor will determine a dosage that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dosage. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your healthcare provider administers this drug to you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we can not guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.

Take as directed

Medroxyprogesterone injection is used for short-term or long-term treatment. The length of your treatment depends on why you’re receiving this drug. If you’re using it as birth control or to treat endometriosis pain, don’t use this drug for longer than 2 years.

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop receiving the drug suddenly or don’t receive it at all: Your condition may progress or get worse. If you’re taking this drug as birth control, you may become pregnant.

If you miss doses or don’t receive the drug on schedule: Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

What to do if you miss a dose: Call your doctor right away to reschedule your appointment.

If you’re taking this drug as birth control, you may need to use another birth control method for a time.

How to tell if the drug is working: If you’re taking this drug to treat cancer, you may not be able to tell if the drug is working. Your doctor will monitor your cancer to determine if the drug is working.

If you’re taking this drug to relieve endometriosis pain, your pain should be reduced.

If you’re taking this drug as birth control, you likely won’t get pregnant.

Important considerations for taking medroxyprogesterone

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes medroxyprogesterone for you.

General

  • When you receive this medication depends on why you’re receiving it.
    • Treatment of kidney or endometrial cancer: Your doctor will determine how often you receive this medication. You may need it more often at the start of treatment.
    • Birth control: You’ll receive this medication once every 3 months.
    • Relief of endometriosis pain: You’ll receive this medication once every 3 months.
  • Each medroxyprogesterone injection should take about 1 minute.
  • Medroxyprogesterone injection may make you sleepy. You may need a friend or loved one to help you get home after your injection.

Travel

This drug must be administered by a trained healthcare provider. Talk with your doctor about any travel plans you have. You may need to plan your travel around your treatment schedule.

Pregnancy testing

Before your doctor prescribes this drug for you, they will confirm that you’re not pregnant.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor should monitor certain health issues while you take this drug. This can help make sure you stay safe during your treatment. These issues include:

  • Liver function. Your doctor may do blood tests to check how well your liver is working. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may lower your dosage of this drug.

Your diet

Because medroxyprogesterone can decrease your bone strength, your doctor may suggest that you eat foods that contain calcium and vitamin D.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained here in is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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