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Does Depo-Provera prolong menopause? #209/11

Does the Depo shot prolong menopause?  Do I need to get off the shot to let menopause continue and complete its course?  I am on the Depo shot and have been on it for 10 to 12 years. Can I stay on Depo while menopause goes on?  How will I know that I am through menopause and can quit taking the shot?

Depo does not prolong the perimenopause (years prior to menopause) or the menopause years (when symptoms are most dramatic).  Since you cannot know, while using Depo, exactly when your ovaries have stopped ovulating, some women and some clinicians choose an arbitrary age such as 53 or 55 to stop Depo injections since a WOMAN'S RISK OF pregnancy is extremely low after 53.


MANY WOMEN DO CONTINUE USING Depo beyond the age when ovulation has stopped.  The wisdom of this in terms of has not been well documented.


So I generally suggest that women stop receiving Depo at about age 53 to 55.


You have raised extremely tough questions to which you could receive quite different answers from different thoughtful gynecologists, nurse practitioners and family practice clinicians.


How old are you now?


Her email reply on 2-14: “I am 51 years old.  Thank you for your reply.  I did have a FSH and LH blood tests done on January 27th. 

The results are: FSH: 9.2 and the LH was 1.7


What does this mean and where am I at the perimenopause/menopause stage?  Also, I know a side-effect of Depo is bone loss, which I am concerned about.  I am taking calcium 2times a day and Vitamin D3.  I appreciate you taking the time to answer me!         


FSH levels are not diagnostic for menopause.  It is the bone loss that concerns me. Tell me about you and exercise.


Her email reply on 2-16: “I will tell you a little about myself.  I am a farm wife and live in North Dakota.  I used to be a registered nurse, but have not worked outside the home since my children were born.  They are grown up now.  I do most of the yard work (we have a big yard) and I have a vegetable garden and flower beds that I tend to in the spring, summer and fall.  In the warmer months, I walk outdoors about 2 miles a day (5-7 days a week).  In the colder months I exercise on an elliptical about 3 times a week (1/2 hour each session).  I do my own housework, cleaning, etc.  That is about all I can tell you.


I also wanted to tell you that 2 years ago I went through the Life Line Screening tests.  The bone test they did was to test the bone in the heel of my foot.  My results came back “low risk” for bone loss or osteoporosis.”


To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of the Depo-Provera injections, go to our website: www.managingcontraception.com and click on Choices.  You can also order this wonderful new educational book from our website or by calling 404-875-5001.  Do you have your copy yet?       



Key Words:  Depo-Provera shots, menopause, quit, prolong, perimenopause, arbitrary age, symptoms, dramatic, ovaries, ovulating, pregnancy, gynecologists, nurse practitioners, family practice clinicians, FSH test, LH blood levels, bone loss, concerned, calcium, vitamins, exercise, low risk, Life Line Screening tests, registered nurse, farm wife, cleaning, gardening, flowers, walk, elliptical

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Emeritus Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

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