Health Guide
Drug Guide

Progestin contraceptives (Oral route, parenteral route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

Progestins are hormones.

The low-dose progestins for contraception are used to prevent pregnancy. Other names for progestin-only oral contraceptives are minipills and progestin-only pills (POPs). Progestins can prevent fertilization by preventing a woman's egg from fully developing.

Also, progestins cause changes at the opening of the uterus, such as thickening of the cervical mucus. This makes it hard for the partner's sperm to reach the egg. The fertilization of the woman's egg with her partner's sperm is less likely to occur while she is taking, receiving, or using a progestin, but it can occur. Even so, the progestins make it harder for the fertilized egg to become attached to the walls of the uterus, making it difficult to become pregnant.

No contraceptive method is 100 percent effective. Studies show that fewer than 1 of each 100 women become pregnant during the first year of use after correctly receiving the injection on time. Fewer than 10 of each 100 women who take progestins correctly by mouth for contraception become pregnant during the first year of use. Methods that do not work as well include condoms, diaphragms, or spermicides. Discuss with your doctor what your options are for birth control.

Progestin contraceptives are available only with your doctor's prescription.

Make certain your doctor knows if you are on any special diet, such as a low-sodium or low-sugar diet.

Before Using This Medicine:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Progestins have been used by teenagers and have not been shown to cause different side effects or problems than they do in adults. You must take progestin-only oral contraceptives every day in order for them to work. Progestins do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, a risk factor for teenagers. It is not known if Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection causes problems with bone development and growth in teenagers and young women. It is important that your doctor check you regularly for growth problems, especially if you have been using this medicine for 2 years or longer.

Older adults

This medicine has been tested and has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults.

Pregnancy

Use of progestin-only contraceptives during pregnancy is not recommended. Doctors should be told if pregnancy is suspected. When accidently used during pregnancy, progestins used for contraception have not caused problems.

Breast-feeding

Although progestins pass into the breast milk, the low doses of progestins used for contraception have not been shown to cause problems in nursing babies. Progestins used for contraception are recommended for nursing mothers when contraception is desired.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking any of these medicines, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with a medication in this class or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of medicines in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

To make the use of a progestin as safe and reliable as possible, you should understand how and when to take it and what effects may be expected. Progestins for contraception usually come with patient directions. Read them carefully before taking or using this medicine.

Progestins do not protect a woman from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The use of latex (rubber) condoms or abstinence is recommended for protection from these diseases.

Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects. Try to take the medicine at the same time each day to reduce the possibility of side effects and to allow it to work better.

When using levonorgestrel tablet dosage form for emergency contraception:

When using medroxyprogesterone injection dosage form for contraception:

When using an oral progestin dosage form:

Follow your doctor's orders to schedule the proper time to receive an injection of progestins for contraception.

Dosing

The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.

For oral dosage form (tablets):

For injection dosage form:

Storage

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This will allow your dosage to be adjusted to your changing needs, and will allow any unwanted effects to be detected. These visits are usually every 12 months when you are taking progestins by mouth for birth control.

Progestins may cause dizziness in some people. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert.

It is possible that certain doses of progestins may cause a temporary thinning of the bones by changing your hormone balance. It is important that your doctor know if you have an increased risk of osteoporosis. Some things that can increase your risk for osteoporosis include cigarette smoking, abusing alcohol, taking or drinking large amounts of caffeine, and having a family history of osteoporosis or easily broken bones. Some medicines, such as steroids (cortisone-like medicines) or anticonvulsants (seizure medicines), can also cause thinning of the bones. It is especially important that you tell your doctor about any of these risk factors if you are taking Depo-Provera® Contraceptive Injection or Depo-SubQ Provera® 104. These contraceptives may cause a loss of bone mineral density. Your doctor may replace these contraceptives with a different one.

Vaginal bleeding of various amounts may occur between your regular menstrual periods during the first 3 months of use. This is not unusual and does not mean you should stop the medicine. This is sometimes called spotting when the bleeding is slight, or breakthrough bleeding when it is heavier. If this occurs, continue on your regular dosing schedule. Check with your doctor:

Missed menstrual periods may occur. If you suspect a pregnancy, you should call your doctor immediately.

If you are scheduled for any laboratory tests, tell your doctor that you are taking a progestin. Progestins can change certain test results.

The following medicines might reduce the effectiveness of progestins for contraception:

Sometimes your doctor may use these medicines with progestins for contraception, but the doctor will give you special directions to follow to make sure your progestin is working properly. In order to prevent pregnancy, use a second method of birth control together with the progestin when you also use a medicine that could reduce the effectiveness of the progestin. If you are using medroxyprogesterone injection for contraception, continue using a back-up method of birth control until you have your next injection, even if the medicine that affects contraceptives is discontinued. If you are using the oral tablets, continue using a back-up method of birth control for a full cycle (or 4 weeks), even if the medicine that affects contraceptives is discontinued.

If you vomit your oral progestin-only contraceptive for any reason within a few hours after taking it, do not take another dose. Return to your regular dosing schedule and use an additional back-up method of birth control for 48 hours.

If you are receiving levonorgestrel tablets for emergency contraception and vomiting occurs within 1 hour after taking either dose of the medicine, contact your physician to discuss whether the dose should be repeated.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
Changes in uterine bleeding (increased amounts of menstrual bleeding occurring at regular monthly periods
heavier uterine bleeding between regular monthly periods
lighter uterine bleeding between menstrual periods
or stopping of menstrual periods
Less common
Mental depression
skin rash
unexpected or increased flow of breast milk
Incidence not known
(for patients taking Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection)
Cough
decrease in height
difficulty swallowing
fast heartbeat
hives, itching, puffiness, or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips or tongue
pain in back, ribs, arms, or legs
pain or swelling in arms or legs without any injury
shortness of breath
skin rash
tightness in chest
wheezing

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Abdominal pain or cramping
diarrhea
dizziness
fatigue
mild headache
mood changes
nausea
nervousness
pain or irritation at the injection site
swelling of face, ankles, or feet
unusual tiredness or weakness
vomiting
weight gain
Less common
Acne
breast pain or tenderness
brown spots on exposed skin, possibly long-lasting
hot flashes
loss or gain of body, facial, or scalp hair
loss of sexual desire
trouble in sleeping

Not all of the side effects listed above have been reported for each of these medicines, but they have been reported for at least one of them. All of the progestins are similar, so any of the above side effects may occur with any of these medicines.

After you stop using this medicine, your body may need time to adjust. The length of time this takes depends on the amount of medicine you were using and how long you used it. During this period of time, check with your doctor if you notice any of the following side effects:

Delayed return to fertility
stopping of menstrual periods
unusual menstrual bleeding (continuing)

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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