Sexual Infections with Depo Provera?

Aug 24, 2004 -- Depo Provera, a synthetic version of progesterone given as an injection 3 or 4 times a year, appears to increase the risk for some sexually transmitted infections, according to a new report.

Because Depo Provera stops the ovaries from releasing eggs, it provides protection against contraception. Unfortunately, Depo Provera does not protect against reproductive tract infections.

The Study

A woman who uses Depo Provera appears to have more than a threefold increase in her risks of sexually transmitted infections, specifically chlamydia and gonococcus. This was the conclusion of the study involving more than 800 women who were given the choice of using Depo Provera, oral contraceptives (estrogen and progestin) or non-hormonal contraception.

The women in the study came from two Maryland clinics. One was in Baltimore and served mainly African-Americans. The other was outside of Baltimore in Towson and served white college-age women.

Questions

The questions raised by this study are both biological and behavioral.

One biological question is "Why might Depo Provera permit more sexually transmitted infections?" Depo Provera thickens the cervical mucus and changes the uterine lining. The environment in the vagina, cervix, and uterus is changed until the woman stops getting Depo Provera. Could this be an explanation?