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Bad Side Effects of Depo-Provera

author image Rae Uddin
Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Uddin earned her Master of Science in integrated biomedical sciences with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biochemistry from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
Bad Side Effects of Depo-Provera
Woman's feet on a scale Photo Credit: Jon Feingersh/Blend Images/Getty Images

Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate) is an injectible form of birth control for women that prevents pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs. This medication is a man-made (synthetic) hormone that is similar to the naturally-occurring hormone called progesterone. Depo-Provera is administered by a medical professional as an injection beneath the skin of the upper arm or buttocks once every three months. Before you begin using this form of contraception, talk with your gynecologist about the bad side effects of Depo-Provera.

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Irregular Vaginal Bleeding

Irregular vaginal bleeding is the most common bad side effect associated with Depo-Provera use, reports the American Pregnancy Association (APA). This form of contraception prevents the release of eggs from your ovaries, which can cause you to experience intermittent vaginal bleeding between your menstrual periods. Certain women also experience lighter menstrual periods while using this type of birth control. Approximately half of all women who use Depo-Provera for more than one year stop having monthly menstrual periods, explains Family Doctor, a medical website supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Weight Gain

Moderate to significant weight gain has been reported by women using Depo-Provera. Data provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicate that, on average, women gain approximately 8 lbs. after two years of Depo-Provera therapy. Body weight increases typically continue with prolonged use of this contraceptive.

Flu-like Symptoms

Flu-like symptoms can arise as bad side effects in women taking Depo-Provera. These flu-like side effects can include fatigue, weakness, body aches, dizziness, headache and nausea, explains the APA. The severity of these symptoms is highest within the first few days or weeks following Depo-Provera injection. Certain women can also experience breast tenderness, anxiety or nervousness as bad side effects of this form of birth control.

Injection Site Reaction

After receiving the Depo-Provera injection, you can develop a skin reaction at the site of administration. You can experience painful sensations or swelling at the injection site, which can cause your skin to appear red, irritated or inflamed, explains, a peer-reviewed informational drug product website for consumers. These injection site reaction symptoms typically subside shortly after Depo-Provera administration.

Decreased Bone Density

Health officials at the FDA warn that prolonged use of Depo-Provera can result in significant bone mineral density loss in some women. These side effects can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis or bone fractures later in life. Due to these bad side effects of Depo-Provera, FDA officials discourage using this form of birth control for more than two years unless alternate forms of contraception are inadequate.

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