Depo-Provera® has been available for many years as a
contraceptive injection given every three months. It provides a convenient
birth control choice for many women. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) issued a warning that the use of Depo-Provera® may cause a
loss of bone density. Bone loss is greater the longer a woman has used
Depo-Provera®, and it may not be completely reversible.
In the case of teen girls and young women, it is not known
if Depo-Provera® will reduce peak bone mass or increase the risk of
osteoporosis and broken bones later in life. Peak bone mass is the point when a
person has the greatest amount of bone she or he will ever have. A study funded
by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that bone density appears to
recover in teen girls after they stop using Depo-Provera®. The results of this
study were published in 2005. Other studies have had similar findings, but the
effects on bones might be different in women who use Depo-Provera® for a long
time, especially five or more years.
Because of concerns about its effect on bones, the FDA has
advised that Depo-Provera® should not be used longer than two years if other
forms of birth control are available and appropriate.
You may wonder when you should have a bone density test.
That depends on your risk factors for osteoporosis. There are no guidelines
suggesting routine bone density testing of premenopausal women. Bone density
tests are usually only recommended for premenopausal women if they break
several bones easily or break bones that are unusual for this age group. For
example, breaking a hip or breaking a bone in the spine is unusual. Health care
providers may also recommend a bone density test for young premenopausal women
who need to take a glucocorticoid (steroid) medicine.
Young women with a major family history of osteoporosis or
with other risk factors for osteoporosis may want to choose a different form of
Because of your past use of Depo-Provera®, bone healthy
behaviors are especially important. Be sure to get your calcium and vitamin D
every day and exercise regularly. If you smoke, give it up, and don’t drink too
This answer should not be considered medical advice...This answer should not be considered medical advice and should not take the place of a doctor’s visit. Please see the bottom of the page for more information or visit our Terms and Conditions.
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