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Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Feb;93(2):233-8.

Bone mineral density in women using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate for contraception.

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Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Seattle, Washington 98101, USA.



To evaluate the possible effects of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate injectable contraception on bone mineral density in reproductive-age women.


We conducted a population-based cross-sectional comparison of bone mineral density levels in women using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate contraception and in women of similar age not using this method. The study recruited 457 nonpregnant women aged 18-39 years who were enrollees of a Washington state health maintenance organization. One hundred eighty-three women were receiving injections and 274 were not. Bone mineral density at several anatomic sites (spine, femoral neck, greater trochanter, and whole body) was measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Data on other factors potentially related to bone density were collected through questionnaire and examination.


Overall, age-adjusted mean bone density levels were lower for users of this method than for nonusers at all anatomic sites: The mean difference was 2.5% for the spine (P = .03) and 2.2% for the femoral neck (P = .12). Exposure to depot medroxyprogesterone acetate continued to be significantly (P < .01) associated with decreased bone density at the femoral neck, spine, and trochanter after multivariate adjustment for other risk factors related to bone density. Age-specific comparisons indicated that the major differences in bone density between users and nonusers occurred in the youngest age group (women 18-21 years); the mean femoral neck bone density was 10.5% lower (P < .01) for the exposed women, and differences were consistent (P < .01) across all anatomic sites. We also noted a significant dose-response relation between longer use of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and decreased bone density levels in this age group (P < .01 for all sites).


These results provide evidence that contraception with depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, particularly long-term use, may adversely affect bone mineral density levels in young women aged 18-21 years. The implications for future bone health need further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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