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What Is Medroxyprogesterone?

Common side effects of medroxyprogesterone include nausea and an upset stomach.
Medroxyprogesterone often prescribed to women to treat endometriosis and irregular menstrual cycles.
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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2014
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Medroxyprogesterone is a prescription medication that is commonly used to treat disorders related to hormonal imbalances in women. It is a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, which is involved in ovulation, menstruation, and pregnancy. Oral medroxyprogesterone may be given to treat absent periods, irregular bleeding patterns, or endometriosis. As a course of injections, the drug is also a highly effective contraceptive. There are risks of side effects and adverse drug interactions, so it is important to discuss health problems and current medication usage with a doctor before taking medroxyprogesterone.

During the menstrual cycle, progesterone triggers the uterine lining to separate and ovaries to release. Women who experience irregular or absent periods, spontaneous bleeding problems, or unusual uterine cell growth often have too little progesterone in their systems. Medroxyprogesterone can supplement natural hormone production to balance out processes and promote regularity. In addition, very high levels of synthetic progesterone in the body can prevent ovaries from dropping, thereby avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

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Tablets come in five and 10 milligram sizes to be taken exactly as directed by the prescribing doctor. Dosage amounts are figured based on the patients' weight, age, health, and particular condition. Most adults are instructed to take one tablet a day for about 10 days or until symptoms resolve. Patients who use the drug as a contraceptive typically receive 150 milligram injections every three months at a doctor's office for an indefinite period of time. Checkups during and after a course of treatment are important to make sure complications do not arise.

The most common side effects when taking medroxyprogesterone are nausea, stomach upset, abdominal cramps, and temporarily heavy menstrual bleeding. Some women experience drowsiness, insomnia, mild fevers, and high blood pressure. Rarely, the medication can cause swelling and tenderness in the breasts, body and facial hair growth, and acne. Skin rashes and breathing difficulties are signs of an allergic reaction, and they should be immediately reported to a doctor.

There is a very slight risk of developing potentially serious blood clots after using medroxyprogesterone, especially if the patient smokes or uses blood pressure medications. A doctor can limit the risks by completing a thorough medical history screening before prescribing any new drugs. If the possibility of clotting is present, the patient may need to take a smaller dose or try a different type of hormone-regulating drug. Most women who follow their doctor's orders and attend scheduled checkups do not experience major problems.

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