Depo Provera and Heavy Bleeding
Depo Provera is an injectable form of birth control that protects against unplanned pregnancies for about 12 to 13 weeks.
Like most medications, it has its pros and cons. Some women don't get a period during the entire three months they're on the shot. Others have a regular period. Then there are other women who experience unpleasant side effects like loss of libido, weight gain, anxiety, headaches, heavy periods, and in even some cases, heavy and constant bleeding.
What Is It?
Depo Provera contains a synthetic version of the natural female sex hormone, progesterone. The synthetic version used in this type of contraception is called medroxyprogesterone acetate.
It significantly reduces the chance of pregnancy by doing the following:
· Thins the uterus lining (endometrium) so that in the unlikely event of an egg becoming fertilized, it has a difficult time implanting because the quality of the endometrium is poor.
· Suppresses ovulation. This hormone prevents eggs from being released from the ovaries.
· Increases the thickness of the cervical mucus. Thicker mucus makes it harder for the sperm to move when reduces the chance of the sperm reaching an egg if one were to be released.
It's injected into the buttocks or upper arm in the first five days of a typical menstrual cycle. It's generally effective immediately.
The American Pregnancy Association reports that this method of birth control has a failure rate of less than one percent if used correctly. Using it correctly means getting the required injections on time.
Bleeding on Depo Provera
The American Pregnancy Association reports that irregular bleeding is the most common side effect of Depo Provera. The manufacturer mentions this as well with as one of the possible symptoms and tends to emphasize that the bleeding is light spotting or breakthrough bleeding.
Not all women agree.
One woman said that she experienced such heavy bleeding for weeks that she had to change her pad every 10 to 15 minutes.
"I was bleeding clots that felt like they were the size of dinner plates for almost a month," said 36-year-old Rebeka, a mother of three children. "And then I continued bleeding for another five months until I went off of Depo Provera.
Evaluating the Abnormal Bleeding
It's important to get medical attention if you suffer from abnormally heavy bleeding after getting a Depo Provera contraception injection. Home remedies that may be used to treat other forms of heavy bleeding won't be effective in making the bleeding stop, according to the American Family Physician, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
According to the AAFP there are nine possible steps in the evaluation of heavy uterine bleeding in woman who are on hormonal contraception. When you seek treatment, you'll go through most of these steps.
1. Your doctor will complete a pelvic examination, a full physical and discuss your medical history with you.
2. There will be an assessment of compliance with hormonal contraception.
3. Your doctor will go over your menstrual calendar with you.
4. You will probably be required to take a pregnancy test.
5. A papanicolaou test (pap smear) will be done to evaluate the condition of your cervix and make sure there are no cancerous cells.
6. Laboratory tests may be done. These could include testing the thyroid-stimulating hormone level, hemoglobin levels and prolactin levels.
7. You'll likely receive tests for STDs like Chlamydia and gonorrhea.
8. You may receive an ultrasound of your pelvic region or an endometrial biopsy. An endometrial biopsy is a procedure where a sample of tissue is removed from the lining of the uterus with a small plastic hollow tube inserted through the cervix.
Treating the Abnormal Bleeding
The only way to treat heavy bleeding while on Depo Provera is to stop taking this type of birth control.