The People's Perspective on Medicine

Medroxyprogesterone

Overview

Provera is derived from a natural female hormone, progesterone. It is prescribed to bring on menstrual periods or treat abnormal uterine bleeding.

Although other uses have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Provera is probably prescribed most often to menopausal women in conjunction with estrogen hormones like Premarin.

Estrogens increase the risk of uterine cancer and Provera may help offset this danger.

Doctors also sometimes prescribe this progestin for severe sleeping disturbances characterized by breathing difficulties.

Side Effects and Interactions

Side effects associated with Provera include breast tenderness, psychological depression, headache, bloating, acne, breakthrough vaginal bleeding and changes in menstrual flow, fluid retention, changes in weight, reduced libido, excess facial hair and loss of scalp hair and rash.

Other adverse reactions include insomnia, increased susceptibility to sunburn, increased cholesterol, jaundice, freckling of the skin, dizziness, fatigue, backache and the development of blood clots in the legs, lungs and brain.

Report any symptoms to your physician promptly. Pain, swelling and redness in the calves, sudden shortness of breath or chest pain, sudden severe headache or vomiting, fainting, or numbness in an arm or leg should all trigger an immediate call to the doctor or a trip to the emergency room.

Provera interacts with certain other medications. The tuberculosis medicine Rifampin, and Cytadren, a drug used for Cushing's syndrome, may interfere with Provera.

In general, the herb
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should not be combined with exogenous hormones such as oral contraceptives or menopausal hormone replacement therapies.

Saw almetto berries, which have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity, are not recommended for women using female hormones for hormone replacement therapy.

Check with your pharmacist and physician before using any other medication or herb in combination with this drug.

Special Precautions

Some people should probably not take Provera. Those with a history of thrombophlebitis or other blood clotting problems are at increased risk.

Patients with liver disease, breast cancer, a history of miscarriage, stroke, seizures, or undiagnosed vaginal bleeding should probably not receive Provera unless there are extenuating circumstances.

This drug should generally be avoided during pregnancy.

Other conditions that require caution include diabetes, asthma, heart problems, migraine headaches, kidney disease and psychological depression.

A controversy exists over the potential carcinogenicity of medroxyprogesterone. Some animal studies have shown an increased risk of breast cancer.

Taking the Medicine

Provera may be taken with food, especially if it upsets your digestive tract.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I have been taking Medroxyprogesterone for 7 days a month with the estrogen patch for 1 1/2 years and felt fine until mid June. It’s for menopause. I started itching, feeling creepy crawly and picky and it got worse and worse. Now it’s just crazy unbearable during the Medroxyprogesterone week and the next that is my period.
I became frightened this time and stopped taking it or the patch. The itching has become tolerable again last week (the 1st week after stopping) but now this week when my period would be due the itching is just crazy every where but especially my head, face, chest, stomach and back. I see my GYN in a few days. I think it’s worse now than when I was taking the hormones. I’m at the end of my rope. Sometimes there’s some rashy redness but mostly no rash at all.

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