Ovulation suppression following subcutaneous administration of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate

Douglas J. Taylor, Vera Halpern, Vivian Brache, Luis Bahamondes, Jeffrey T. Jensen, Laneta J. Dorflinger

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1 Scopus citations


Objectives: To characterize the relationship between serum medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) concentrations and ovulation suppression, and to estimate the risk of ovulation for investigational subcutaneous regimens of Depo-Provera CI (Depo-Provera) and Depo-subQ Provera 104 (Depo-subQ). Study Design: We performed a secondary analysis of 2 studies that assessed the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of MPA when Depo-Provera is administered subcutaneously rather than by the labeled intramuscular route. Each woman received a single 45 mg to 300 mg subcutaneous injection of Depo-Provera, a single 104 mg subcutaneous injection of Depo-subQ, or 2 injections of Depo-subQ at 3-month intervals. We used an elevation of serum progesterone ≥4.7 ng/mL as a surrogate for ovulation and non-parametric statistical methods to assess pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic relationships. Results: This analysis included 101 women with body mass index (BMI) 18 to 34 kg/m2. Return of ovulation occurred at a median MPA concentration of 0.07 ng/mL (95% CI: 0.06–0.08) and the 90th percentile was 0.10 ng/mL (95% CI: 0.09–0.14). Neither age, race, nor BMI significantly influenced this relationship. The estimated probabilities of ovulation within 4 months of a 104 mg subcutaneous injection and within 7 months of a 150 mg subcutaneous injection (6 plus a 1-month grace) were each below 2.2%. Conclusions: The typical MPA concentration associated with loss of ovulation suppression is substantially less than the commonly cited threshold of 0.2 ng/mL. Based on our results, MPA levels would rarely be low enough to permit ovulation if the Depo-subQ reinjection interval were extended to four months or if 150 mg Depo-Provera were injected subcutaneously every 6 months. Implications: Extending the three-month Depo-subQ reinjection interval by one month would result in a 25% reduction in yearly MPA exposure, with little risk of pregnancy. Off-label subcutaneous administration of 150 mg Depo-Provera every 6 months would be a highly effective repurposing of an excellent product, with a similar reduction in cumulative exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100073
JournalContraception: X
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Depo-Provera
  • Depo-subQ Provera
  • DMPA
  • Pharmacodynamics
  • Pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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