By Dale Mazer, M.D., M.P.H.

Depo-Provera and Bone Density

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`` Researchers at the University of Washington examined 182 women aged 18 to 39 between 1994 and 1999 who were receiving Depo-Provera injections. They compared hip and spine bone density in these women to density measurements in 258 women who were not using the contraceptive. Their results were published in Epidemiology. The scientists found that women using Depo-Provera lost an average of 1.12 percent of bone density in their hips every year. Women who did not use Depo-Provera lost only 0.05 percent of bone density yearly. Researchers said this amount of loss is comparable to the loss of bone density seen during menopause. Women using Depo-Provera also lost density in the spine bones, while women who were non-users actually gained spinal bone density. Interestingly, women who stopped using Depo-Provera during the study quickly regained their bone density. Within two-and-a-half years of stopping Depo-Provera, bones of women in both groups looked the same again. “Although the bone loss seen in this study is of concern, it is reassuring to see how quickly bone density increased after discontinuing Depo-Provera,” said Steven C. Kaufman, M.D., of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study.

 

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