So the horror stories about Depo were true...
April 3, 2008 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I was on depo briefly, reacted badly, went off as soon as I could, but the after-effects still linger. Do I wait for the drugs to flush out, or is this more serious?

I went on Depo Provera in December of last year. The first 5 weeks or so were great, but then the bleeding started. It's pretty brutal - essentially I'd have 17-19 days of bleeding ranging anywhere from spotting to light-period, a 3-4 day breather, and it'd start all over again.

Naturally, I did not go in for my second shot. I was supposed to get it renewed on February 28th of this year. At the time of this writing, it is April 3rd, and the cycle of 19-days-3-days-19-days has not stopped, and it is driving me insane (I am on day 20). It's light enough that I only wear a liner, but it won't. Freaking. Stop.

I've read enough horror stories about women reacting badly to depo and the effects lingering long after, but those seemed to be more in long-term cases. I was on it for all of three months. I have no other symptoms to speak of. No fatigue that I can tell, no headaches, no cramps (not since February at least), I occasionally feel a bit bloated but even then it's a bit of a stretch. Normally I'm on a 29-35 day cycle depending on how stressed I am that month, with each period lasting around 6-8 days.

I am 19, not on any other forms of drugs (other than caffeine, ha-ha, and even then at most one cup a day), healthy, relatively fit, lower end of weight spectrum, etc. Fairly stressed, yes, but that usually manifests itself in slightly later periods and acne for me, not spotting/breakthrough bleeding.

Is it normal for the effects to linger THIS long after such a short time on the drug? When can I expect it to fully flush out? Or could it be something more serious?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I had the same ill effects when I was on depo. It did take a few months to get back to normal. I would maybe wait it out a bit longer, but you should probably talk to your doctor if you are worried.
posted by greta simone at 9:46 PM on April 3, 2008

I was on Depo for a year. The first 11 months I had no period at all, but gained a good 15-20 pounds. The last month of that year? Constant period. Not light, either. I immediately stopped the shots. However, my periods didn't return to normal for about 6 months. I had lots of in-between spotting. You've been on it for the first shot's 3-month effectiveness period; it's been a little over a month since you stopped, which may not be enough time for it to get 100% out of your system.

I'd still talk to your doctor, though, if you're worried.
posted by bedhead at 10:00 PM on April 3, 2008

I had spotting for nearly a year with Depo; I kept on holding out, hoping it would work (it did at first), and it.... didn't. My periods were weird for a while after I stopped it, too. I didn't have a period for a while, then I started but they slowly grew closer together. What stopped it for me was going on a normal kind of birth control for a few months, just to get my body back on some kind of schedule. Ortho-Evra worked well for me but I imagine any standard pill would work. Of course, the pill you use may have its own side effects- hopefully you'll be lucky like me.
posted by MadamM at 10:51 PM on April 3, 2008

this will probably get back to normal in time but I think you'll find a short course of Tranexamic acid will do the trick.

My GP perscribed it for similar reasons, although my cycle didn't get back to normal for about 6 months afterwards. But it was more 5-6 weeks between normal type periods after taking the acid. The constant belleding was exhaustings and really interfeared with my life-style. So go to your doctor, you don't have to put up with this.
posted by Wilder at 2:25 AM on April 4, 2008

Sorry about the typos, I think you got my point!
posted by Wilder at 2:26 AM on April 4, 2008

have you talked to your doctor?
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:22 AM on April 4, 2008

It's normal for the side effects to last this long.

The whole point of a depo injection is that the drug slowly filters out into your system and lasts a whole 3 months. So instead of having to take a pill every day to keep hormone levels up in your system, you have to get a shot every 3 months to keep hormone levels high enough. If you were taking a pill daily, you wouldn't expect it to be completely out of your system 24 hours after your last dose. Likewise, you can't expect depo to be completely out of your system 3 months after your last dose.

Sorry to hear the side effects are so bad! It would drive me nuts too. But hang in there, you've passed the 3 month mark, so it will only get better from here.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:00 AM on April 4, 2008

I got two shots (so, only 6 months worth of treatment), and decided not to get a third because the side effects were so awful. It was almost a year before my cycles were back to normal again. I'm sure it's no fun to hear that you just have to wait it out, but the consolation is that this isn't really worrisome. Make sure you're getting enough iron in your diet, so you don't get anemic with all that bleeding. And of course, check with your doc if you're really concerned. Sometimes you need a professional to confirm what everyone on the internet says, just to ease your mind.
posted by vytae at 6:53 AM on April 4, 2008

I've only been on depo (pills) for 3 weeks now, but I recently came off a 6 month stint with Lupron Depot injections, which is sort of similar in that it affects your hormones and cycles in a major way. It was 3 months after the last injection before my cycles returned to normal, FWIW. Talk to your doctor.
posted by Koko at 7:06 AM on April 4, 2008

If you do talk to your doctor you might want to ask about "add-back" therapy. I know that people who are on long-term depo-provera sometimes are given a little bit of estrogen to counteract the bone thinning that depo-provera can cause. I have no idea if this would be appropriate for your situation but it's worth asking.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2008

I was on Depo injections for about three years (can't take any oral contraceptives for various reasons), and went to an IUD because of the Depo side effects. It took about 15 months for things to get back to "normal".

My libido never did get back to where it was before, but the time on Depo may have masked a natural decline in interest; I was 28 when I started the injections and 31 when I stopped. I tend to blame the Depo but, as with these women, cannot prove it.
posted by catlet at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2008

Talk to your doctor, but after seven years on Depo it took me over a year to get regular periods back.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 10:39 AM on April 5, 2008

It can take a long time for things to get normal again. That said, I've been on Depo for eight years now with next to no side effects. I took a break halfway through and my period started up again within a month. (Even my doctor was surprised by that.) So yeah, the horror stories are true for some people, but I just wanted to throw in my experience that it's not that way for *everybody*.

(Also, as I said in a previous question, the no-period effect didn't kick in immediately. I think it probably took the best part of year before I stopped having them completely. I had some spotting, but nowhere near as bad as some of you guys describe.)
posted by web-goddess at 4:45 PM on April 5, 2008

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