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How Does Medroxyprogesterone Work?

Medroxyprogesterone (Provera®, Depo-Provera®, depo-subQ Provera 104®) is a synthetic form of progesterone, a progestin hormone. It is prescribed for many hormone-related conditions, but how does it actually work?
When used to treat irregular menstrual periods or periods that have stopped for several months, the drug is used for several days and then stopped. After the hormone is stopped, vaginal bleeding occurs -- the drop in progestin levels causes the uterine lining (the endometrium) to slough off and bleed. This can help restore regular periods in women who have been having irregular periods or no periods at all.
Medroxyprogesterone helps to decrease the risk of uterine cancer by preventing an overgrowth of the lining of the uterus, which may lead to cancer.
Injectable forms of medroxyprogesterone prevent pregnancy primarily by preventing ovulation (a release of an egg from the ovary).
(To learn more about how this drug works, click Medroxyprogesterone. This overview article offers details on several topics, including side effects, what to discuss with your healthcare provider, and how to ensure the safety and effectiveness of each dose.)
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