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Contraception. 1999 Jan;59(1):25-9.

Long-term depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate and bone mineral density.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of Hong Kong, China.


The association between long-term use of depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) and bone mineral density (BMD) has been controversial, as seen in three case-control studies in New Zealand, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. In the present case-controlled study of BMD, a group of 67 Chinese women who had used DMPA from 5-15 years was compared with 218 women of the same age range who had not used any steroidal hormones. DMPA users were found to have a significantly lower BMD at lumbar vertebra (L2-4) (0.93 g/cm2), neck of femur (0.69 g/cm2), trochanter (0.59 g/cm2), and Ward's triangle (0.58 g/cm2), as compared with the control group, whose corresponding BMD values were 1.03 g/cm2, 0.83 g/cm2, 0.71 g/cm2, and 0.78 g/cm2, respectively (p < 0.001). The average percentage of bone loss per year was estimated to be 1.1% in L2-4, 2.3% in neck of femur, 2.4% in trochanter, and 3.5% in Ward's triangle. The percentage of bone loss in L2-4 was found to be more pronounced with age. This study provided information that the use of DMPA in a Chinese group for > 5 years in associated with bone loss, and a prospective study is needed to confirm these data, which are different from two case-control studies.


The effect of long-term use of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) on bone mineral density remains controversial. The present study compared bone mineral densities in 67 long-term (5 years or more) DMPA users recruited consecutively from the Hong Kong (China) Family Planning Association with those in 218 age-matched controls recruited from 8 family health service clinics in Hong Kong. Mean age was 42.8 years (range, 34-46 years) in the DMPA group and 40.0 years (range, 34-46 years) among controls. Body mass index, calcium intake, and smoking were similar in both groups. The median duration of DMPA use was 6 years (range, 5-15 years). Long-term DMPA users had significantly lower bone mineral densities than controls at the lumbar vertebra (0.93 vs. 1.03 g/sq. cm), neck of femur (0.69 vs. 0.83 g/sq. cm), trochanter (0.59 vs. 0.71 g/sq. cm), and Ward's triangle (0.58 vs. 0.78 g/sq. cm). The percentage of bone loss in L2-4 was more pronounced with increasing age. For each year of DMPA use, the decrease in bone mineral density was estimated to be 0.011 g/sq. cm (1.1%) in L2-4, 0.0193 g/sq. cm (2.3%) in the neck of femur, 0.0169 g/sq. cm (2.4%) in the trochanter, and 0.0277 g/sq. cm (3.5%) in Ward's triangle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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