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In: Issues in reproductive technology I: an anthology, edited by Helen Bequaert Holmes. New York, New York, Garland Publishing, 1992. 11-30. (Garland Reference Library of Social Science Vol. 729)The progestin, levonorgestrel, suppresses ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus. The 1-year pregnancy rate is 0.2/100 users and the 5-year rate is 3.9/100 users. Contraindications of Norplant include abnormal bleeding, cardiovascular conditions, liver tumors, and breast cancer. The most frequent side effect is changes in bleeding patterns. A main concern of women's health advocates is that women are dependent on the medical establishment for insertion and removal of Norplant which affects the provider-client relationship. Family planning programs that do not recognize a woman's right to free choice of existing contraceptives and her right to have Norplant removed at any time may abuse Norplant. Health workers still do not know the long term effects of Norplant and Norplant's effect on the fetus in case of method failure or insertion while pregnant. Most acceptability studies occurred at university-based health clinics or at clinics in urban areas. The clinic environment may affect women's answers. These studies should occur in the community and home of users and nonusers. Another bias of these studies was clinic staff chose women who would tend to continue using Norplant. Thus subjects were not representative of the population. Researchers did not attempt to understand the women's perception of reproduction physiology and mode of action, the women's cost benefit analysis used to determine what method to use, or the consequences of menstruation changes. They also did not report on the information women received about contraceptive choices. The issue of abuse has arisen in Kansas where a state legislator proposed paying any mother on welfare US$500 if she uses Norplant. In California, a judge ordered a woman convicted of child abuse to use Norplant after release from jail and throughout her probation period.
WASHINGTON MEMO. 1992 Nov 12; (17):2-3.In October 1992, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Depo-Provera for contraceptive use thus increasing the number of available contraceptives to women. Yet USAID has distributed it through its family planning programs in developing countries for many years. It has been available in the US since 1969 for noncontraceptive purposes such as endometrial cancer treatment. More than >30 million women around the world have used it to prevent conception. Today about 9 million women in 90 countries use it. A reason FDA did not approve Depo-Provera is that some studies revealed a link between it and breast tumors and cervical cancer in animals. More recent research conducted by WHO shows no connection with cervical cancer or ovarian cancer. In fact, it demonstrates Depo-Provera may protect against endometrial cancer. Yet it does indicate an insignificant increased risk of breast cancer in younger women. Some research suggests Depo-Provera may decrease bone density leading to osteoporosis and may increase the risk of having a low birth weight infant if the child is conceived before an injection. Evidence exists that it may lead to longer delays in becoming pregnant than other forms of contraception. Still 70% do conceive within 12 months after the last injection. Each Depo-Provera injection delivers a progestin in a water-based solution over 12 weeks resulting in suppressed ovulation. Its failure rate is <.5%/year, so Depo-Provera is one of the most effective reversible contraceptive available. The most common side effects are menstrual changes and weight gain (5-15 lbs.). Some contraindications include pregnancy, heart or liver disease, and breast cancer. As of November 1992, the FDA had not announced the cost or whether there would be a reduced price for family planning and public health clinics. Women's health and rights advocates plan on monitoring introduction of Depo-Provera to make sure that women have received comprehensive information and were not coerced to use it.
A preliminary pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic evaluation of depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate and norethisterone oenanthate.
Fertility and Sterility. 1980 Aug; 34(2):131-9.2 populations attending WHO centers, one in Sweden and one in India, participated in a comparative, pilot trial of 2 increasingly popular injectable progestin-only female contraceptives, Depo-Provera and Norigest. The purpose of the study was to assess the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the 2 formulations (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate and norethisterone enanthate). Differences were found between Swedish women and Indian women in their reactions to the 2 drugs: 1) Norigest was detectable in blood samples a significantly shorter time after injection of the agent in Indian women than in Swedish women; this difference was not apparent with Depo-Provera. 2) Although there was no difference at the 2 centers in the time of ovulation return for subjects receiving Norigest, 0 of 4 Swedish women ovulated more than 156 days after Depo-Provera injection, whereas all 4 Indian women ovulated within 73 days of Depo-Provera injection; in the Swedish women, the levels of medroxyprogesterone were undetectable at time of return to ovulation, whereas Indian women had levels of .6 ng/ml when ovulation resumed. 3) In both cultures, Depo-Provera users had significantly more episodes of bleeding and spotting than Norigest users. This preliminary report emphasizes the variety of responses possible to injection of different contraceptive progestins among various populations and points to the need for further culturally comparative studies.