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Contraception. 1999 Jun;59(6):363-7.

Prevalence of visible disruption of cervical epithelium and cervical ectopy in African women using Depo-Provera.

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Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Associations between Depo-Provera (injectable, progesterone-only contraceptive) use and visible disruption of cervical epithelium and cervical ectopy were investigated using data collected as part of a cervical cancer screening study in periurban Cape Town, South Africa. Women were interviewed about their contraceptive use, and underwent a gynecologic examination that included two 35-mm photographs of the cervix after application of 5% acetic acid. Photographs of 723 subjects were reviewed (blind to clinical information and using systematic criteria developed before review) for evidence of atrophy and epithelial disruption, including inflammation and ulceration. The percentage of the cervix covered with columnar epithelium (ectopy) was also estimated from the photographs. A random sample of 85 photographs was reviewed again for reliability. A total of 121 current users of Depo-Provera were no more likely to have evidence of epithelial disruption (38%) than 574 nonusers (39%), odds ratio (OR) = 1.37, 95% CI: 0.89-2.11 adjusting for age and parity. The prevalence of significant ectopy (columnar epithelium covering > 10% of the cervix) was also no different among current Depo-Provera users (OR = 1.22, 95% CI: 0.80-1.86 adjusting for age and parity). Reliability of visual scoring of epithelial disruption and ectopy was excellent (kappa = 0.8). Although the underlying prevalence of visible disruption of cervical epithelium was very high, current use of Depo-Provera was not associated with increased prevalence of visible disruption of the cervical epithelium or with ectopy in this sample of African women.


The relationship between cervical epithelium disorders and cervical ectopy and Depo-Provera use was investigated among African women. The women, aged 35-65 years, had gynecologic examinations, which included various cervical cancer screening tests including two 35-mm colored photographs of the cervix. Cervical photographs from 723 participants were reexamined for the signs of disruption. Results showed that among 121 current Depo-Provera users, 38% showed no steady increase in epithelial disruption compared with 34% of past users and 49% of nonusers. There was no difference in the odds ratio (OR = 1.37; 95% CI: 0.89-2.11). The percentage of women with significant ectopy was higher in current and past users of Depo-Provera, but no trends remain after age adjustment and parity (OR = 1.22; 95% CI: 0.80-1.86). The credibility of the diagnosis of cervical disruption combined (either ulceration, inflammation, or athropy) was excellent (K = 0.8). However, the results were doubtful in light of the concept that simple epithelial thinning may account for putative effects of Depo-Provera. The validity of this method needs further investigations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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