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Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1998 Jul;105(7):790-4.

Bone density in long term users of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate.

Author information

1
Palatine Centre, University of Manchester, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To identify any adverse effect on bone density in long term users of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) for contraception.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional measurement of bone density in users with amenorrhoea of more than one year or any woman using DMPA for more than five years.

SETTING:

Community Family Planning Clinics in Portsmouth and Manchester.

POPULATION:

One hundred and eighty-five women aged 17-52 years (mean 33.3 years) who had used DMPA for between 1 and 16 years and were attending the clinics for further injections, between August 1994 and August 1996.

METHODS:

Dual energy X-ray measurement of bone density of femoral neck and lumbar spine, and venous blood sample taken just prior to the next injection of DMPA.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Bone density of femoral neck and lumbar spine and serum oestradiol in relationship to years of DMPA use and duration of amenorrhoea.

RESULTS:

Most women (n=153) had serum oestradiol levels < 150 pmol/l. Despite this, the mean bone density of the lumbar spine compared with the population mean for women aged 20-59 years gave a Z score (95% CI) of -0.332 (-0.510 to -0.154). There was no significant difference in the mean density of the femoral neck from the normal population mean.

CONCLUSION:

Despite amenorrhoea and low serum oestradiol, this sample of long term DMPA users had bone density only minimally below the normal population mean. We therefore found no clinically important adverse effect on bone density and therefore no reason to recommend bone conserving measures, such as add-back oestrogen.

PIP:

The effects on bone density of long-term depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) use were investigated in a cross-sectional study of 185 clients 17-52 years of age at family planning clinics in Portsmouth and Manchester, England, who had been receiving contraceptive injections for 1-16 years (median, 5 years). Dual energy x-ray measurements of bone density of the femoral neck and lumbar spine, as well as venous blood samples, were taken prior to the women's next DMPA injection (1994-96). 153 women had serum estradiol levels under 150 pmol/l--the value considered adequate to maintain bone density. The mean bone density of the lumbar spine compared with the population mean for women 20-59 years old yielded a Z score of minus 0.332 (95% confidence interval, -0.510 to -0.154; p 0.001). There was a weak, nonsignificant correlation between lumbar spine Z score and years of DMPA use. Mean density of the femoral neck did not differ significantly from the normal population mean. There was no significant correlation between serum estradiol level and either bone density score. Overall, these findings provide no evidence that DMPA-induced amenorrhea places women at significant risk of further bone loss or that supplemental estrogen is required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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