MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. Mar-Apr 1993;18(2):128. doi: 10.1097/00005721-199303000-00015.


PIP: The US Food and Drug Administration finally approved the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera (DMPA) in October 1992, 25 years after its introduction. Women return to a health facility every 90 days for an intramuscular injection of 150 mg DMPA, which provides them 99% effective contraception. Menstrual changes and spotting are the leading reasons for DMPA discontinuation. Eventually, more than 50% of DMPA users develop amenorrhea. During the first year, women gain about 2 kg and weight increases as time passes. Weight gain is the second leading reason for DMPA discontinuation. DMPA may adversely affect glucose tolerance in women at risk for diabetes, but it does not affect cardiovascular or metabolic functions. It may increase the risk of osteoporosis. A rare side effect is convulsions. 1-10% of DMPA users have other central nervous system effects, such as headaches, dizziness, and depression. Itching and rashes may develop. Fertility returns within 1 year after discontinuation. DMPA is linked to low birth weight. It apparently does not harm breast-fed infants or hinder lactation. A World Health Organization study shows that DMPA users less than 35 years old experience a slight increase in breast cancer but a reduced incidence of endometrial cancer. Nurses are instrumental in guiding women as they choose DMPA and in informing them about its potential side effects, including breast cancer risk. They must screen women for pregnancy and evaluate their risk of breast cancer. They must determine whether women are able to return every 3 months for DMPA injections. Women who select DMPA must use other contraception, e.g., barrier protection, within the first 24 hours after initial injection. Nurses should counsel them about the likely menstrual changes to reduce the likelihood of dissatisfaction. They should recommend a daily dose of 1200 mg of elemental calcium and daily exercise of long bones to minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate* / adverse effects
  • Patient Education as Topic


  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate