Because it is classified as a pregnancy Category X medicine, Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection) should not be used in women who are expecting. Medications in this classification can cause harm to an unborn child. If you are using this drug and are thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about how to prevent any risks to the unborn child.
Depo-Provera has been given a pregnancy Category X classification based on its risks during pregnancy. The use of a pregnancy Category X medicine during pregnancy is not recommended.
What Is Pregnancy Category X?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category X is given to medicines that have caused problems in the fetus during animal studies or in human use of the medication. With this category, the potential risks clearly outweigh the possible benefits.
The hormone contained in Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone) was once used to prevent early miscarriages in pregnant women. However, there was no evidence that it was effective for this use, and it is no longer prescribed for this purpose. At this time, Depo-Provera has no well-established uses during pregnancy.
When given during the first trimester of pregnancy, Depo-Provera may increase the risk for abnormal development of the baby's genitals. However, it is unclear whether this risk truly exists. Some studies suggest there is a link between the use of progestin medicines (like Depo-Provera) and abnormal genital development. Other studies, however, fail to show an increased risk for this, or other, birth defects with medroxyprogesterone use.
This drug may also decrease a baby's birth weight if given to a pregnant woman early in her pregnancy. However, this decreased birth weight does not appear to affect later growth. Studies have failed to show any long-term adverse effects in children exposed to medroxyprogesterone in utero (in the womb).
Although Depo-Provera is considered a pregnancy Category X medicine and is not recommended for use during pregnancy, there does not appear to be an increased risk for birth defects in women who unintentionally receive a Depo-Provera shot early in their pregnancy.
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