Objective: To examine method-related experiences and acceptability of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) among women using this contraceptive for the first time.
Methods: Five hundred thirty-six women who received an injection of DMPA from any of seventeen clinical settings in southeast Texas, United States, were followed for 1 year. At each follow-up visit, patients were asked about their experiences with DMPA during the past 3 months and their plans to use this method in the future.
Results: Amenorrhea, irregular bleeding, and weight gain were the conditions reported most frequently. Reports of amenorrhea, weight gain, and acne or skin problems increased over time, but complaints of longer periods decreased (P < .001). Two pregnancies occurred during the study period. However, of these, one existed before the first injection. Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate's continuation rate at 1 year was 28.6%. Heavier and more frequent bleeding, increased cramping, amenorrhea, weight gain, headaches, depression, and nervousness were more frequent complaints of women who discontinued DMPA (P < .05), whereas lighter and less frequent bleeding were reported more often by those who continued to use this method (P <.05). Women who discontinued use of DMPA were more likely to be married and have a concern about injectable contraceptives than those who continued to use this method.
Conclusion: Intolerable side effects and changes in menstrual pattern are the most frequently indicated reasons for discontinuing DMPA use. Our results suggest that DMPA's 1-year continuation rate may be lower than previously reported.