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Women Experience Depo-Provera Withdrawals

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Our OB/GYN tells us if we have something to worry about.

depo provera

ABC News ran a story this week about women who experienced bothersome symptoms when they stopped taking Depo-Provera, such as dry heaves, nausea, depression, ovarian cysts, and migraines.

"I had headaches, backaches, and my period was like a monster," Nancy Jones said. "The cramping, irritability, and just overall feelings were horrible. It took quite some time for my body to readjust to where it should be."

We asked OB/GYN Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz how widespread this issue is.

"It is really impossible to make any sweeping generalizations about a particular drug's effects based on the comments of 52 respondees to the abc.com website -- hardly a powerful sample from which to draw any kind of definitive scientific conclusions," she says. "However, it does represent another cautionary tale. When women blindly make decisions about medication use without the knowledge that there may be side effects, or unwanted symptoms both on and off the drug, that is when the trouble starts. Any long-term use of a therapy, especially one that was helping control severe and unpleasant symptoms for many of those reporting withdrawal effects, is bound to cause upset and disturbance when discontinued, if for no other reason because the symptom may reappear or new life-stage-related symptoms may appear."

She continues: "Many of the women quoted in the article had typical side effects. Weight gain and mood disturbance are big ones on the med. Many others' withdrawal symptoms may have been merely a return to their off-med baseline, albeit with a vengeance! I have not seen any data on such prolonged use, and I use this medication sparingly in my patients because of the depot effect. (It is stored in fat and releases over a period of time, which makes it hard to control if the patient does not like it.) So I personally have no experience with it being used longer than two or three years. Counseling and supporting our patients thoroughly before, during, and after use of a medication are the keys to helping our patients through any treatment."



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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Daisy  October 29, 2009, 2:03 PM

I had a Horrible Experience with Depo Provera…and so did my roomate in college. It’s difficult to explain but it can cause you to become emotionally haywire…and the problem is you don’t understand the wild mood swings are from Depo until is robes you of at least 1 year. Mothers should talk to their daughters about the dangers of this form of Birth Control.

L October 30, 2009, 7:56 AM

IMO it was the worst one for me. I lost my sex drive and getting the shot every 90 days was a big inconvenience for me.
I liked Norplant the best but they took it off the market.

Louise November 4, 2009, 7:39 PM

I have been on Depo for 18 years now for the treatment of Endometriosis, it is not by choice I have had 5 unsuccessful operations, , it is the only drug that stopped my period completely. In past 5 years my immune system is depleating ( I have a cold just before teh needle is due) I used to have the injection at twelve weeks but have reduced it to 11 as the depression, irratability, anxiety and general “down” feeling gets progressivly worse. I have just this week missed the inject by two weeks, i allmost quit my job because of the errors I have made due to irratability and deprerssion, coming to my senses I have realised I was late.
I offer myself to any doctor that wants a case study (if there are any that care) I had planned to come of teh needle as I hate putting chemicals in my body but I am to scared of what I might do!

maxx acai berry May 13, 2010, 12:56 AM

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Sad sally September 4, 2010, 1:52 PM

I got the shot June 19 my cycle started aug21st it lasted 3months as promised but it is now sept 4 and I am still on with no signs of it goin off from the ongoing bleeding that my body is not used my vulva has become very raw and itchy I keep my area very clean and dry I wear cotton clothing my doc diagnosed me with a bacterial infection aug 24th but the rash has yet to subside everyone tells me it’s just irritation from my loooong cycle I highly suggest women to stray away from depo

Sad sally September 4, 2010, 1:54 PM

I got the shot June 19 my cycle started aug21st it lasted 3months as promised but it is now sept 4 and I am still on with no signs of it goin off from the ongoing bleeding that my body is not used my vulva has become very raw and itchy I keep my area very clean and dry I wear cotton clothing my doc diagnosed me with a bacterial infection aug 24th but the rash has yet to subside everyone tells me it’s just irritation from my loooong cycle I highly suggest women to stray away from depo

BESSIEClayton October 6, 2010, 2:38 AM

I had a desire to begin my commerce, however I didn’t have enough amount of cash to do this. Thank heaven my close friend suggested to take the loans. Thence I took the sba loan and made real my old dream.

WillSmith February 15, 2011, 1:57 PM

ZgJNx0 Hi! I’m just wondering if i can get in touch with you, since you have amazing content, and i’m thinking of running a couple co- projects! email me pls


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