Diabetes and depot medroxyprogesterone contraception in Navajo women

Arch Intern Med. 2001 Jul 23;161(14):1766-71. doi: 10.1001/archinte.161.14.1766.


Background: Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate contraception is widely used in Navajo women, a high-risk population for diabetes mellitus. However, depot medroxyprogesterone may lead to weight gain and independently decrease insulin sensitivity. We studied the association between depot medroxyprogesterone and development of diabetes in Navajo women.

Methods: We studied Navajo women aged 18 to 50 years who had seen a health care provider at a Navajo Area Indian Health Service clinic at least once in 1998. Diabetic cases (n = 284) and nondiabetic controls (n = 570) were matched by age. Medical records were reviewed to determine contraception use before the diagnosis date of diabetes.

Results: Users of depot medroxyprogesterone were more likely to develop diabetes than patients who had used combination estrogen-progestin oral contraception only (odds ratio [OR], 3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-7.9). The excess risk persisted after adjustment for body mass index (OR, 3.6; 95% CI, 1.6-7.9). Longer use was associated with greater risk of diabetes. Users of depot medroxyprogesterone were also more likely to develop diabetes than patients who had never used hormonal contraception, although excess risk was smaller (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.4-3.6).

Conclusions: Depot medroxyprogesterone contraception was associated with a greater risk of diabetes compared with combination oral contraceptive use only. Risk was associated with length of use and persisted after adjustment for body mass index. Additional research is needed for confirmation, but this risk should be considered in contraceptive choice for women at high risk for diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Diabetes Mellitus / chemically induced*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Medical Records
  • Medroxyprogesterone / administration & dosage
  • Medroxyprogesterone / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Progesterone Congeners / administration & dosage
  • Progesterone Congeners / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Indian Health Service
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Progesterone Congeners
  • Medroxyprogesterone