LAST week, we carried a similar question. Today we have a completely different view. What are the side effects of injectaplan? Is it advisable to use it?
Judith Daphne Achola
Imagine a woman in Africa. She is married, with five children in the last six years.
If she had her say, she would not have another child, but her husband wants 10 children to brag about. She is worn out and in desperate need of a means of effective birth control that will not cause family quarrels.
Her answer lies in Depo-Provera, the injection for family planning.
The drug used is very similar to the female hormones in our bodies. It is injected into a muscle and prevents pregnancies for three months. A woman has to have only four injections in a whole year.
It is very effective compared to oral contraceptives, where one may forget to swallow a pill. Its effectiveness in stopping pregnancies has been compared to having the tubes cut. Yet the effect is temporary and reversible. When the woman wants to get pregnant, she just has to stop the injection.
All drugs have side effects, and so does Depo-Provera. You should not use it if you have ever had a blood clot or stroke. You should not use it if you have vaginal bleeding, cancer, or if you are pregnant.
In the first months of the injection, one should expect changes in the menstrual cycle. These are very common, but vary from woman to woman.
Some women maybe forced to stop because of heavy bleeding, though it may be very light for others. The menses may be irregular. After about a year of use, about one in two women do not have menses.
Some consider this an advantage and the menses start after stopping the injection.
Other side effects may occur, but they do not persist for long. For most women, these symptoms wear off with time. In case of need, one just has to stop the drug. Your doctor or nurse should tell you about what to expect and when it will pass.
Depo-Provera injection is very good at preventing pregnancy but it does not prevent HIV or STDs.
All drugs go through tests before they are approved for use. For Depo-Provera, there were early concerns about an apparent tendency to cause bone thinning (osteoporosis) and cancer. These have been put to rest after rigorous tests.
At the moment, both the World Health Organisation and the Food and Drug Administration in USA have approved the use of the injection for family planning. In Uganda, the National Drug Authority has approved it for use.
These are governmental bodies that must approve a drug for use after testing for side effects and harmful effects. All agree that the injection is a very convenient, safe and useful method of family planning.
Dr Paul Semugoma
Write to Ask The Doctor,
Box 9815, Kampala