Background: While depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) is a highly effective contraceptive used by millions of women, its use is associated with bone mineral density (BMD) loss, raising concerns about long-term risk of osteoporosis and/or fractures.
Study design: We conducted a systematic review of studies published in PubMed from 1996 to 2006, evaluating changes in BMD after discontinuation of DMPA. Ten primary clinical or observational studies were identified addressing this issue.
Results: BMD consistently returned toward or to baseline values following DMPA discontinuation in women of all ages. This recovery in BMD was seen as early as 24 weeks after stopping therapy and persisted for as long as women were followed up; BMD in past DMPA users was similar to that in nonusers.
Conclusions: Bone loss occurring with DMPA use is reversible and is not likely to be an important risk factor for low bone density and fractures in older women, although data on fracture risk in DMPA users are lacking.