Provera (Medroxyprogesterone) - Oral

Warning:

Before taking Provera, it is important to know its health risks. It should not be used to prevent cardiovascular disease or dementia; it actually has an increased risk of causing dementia if you are over 65 and taking another estrogen product. If used for birth control or endometriosis pain, it is recommended not to use this drug for more than two years as it may cause bone loss.

The use of Provera has also been linked with an increase in certain issues like bone loss, heart attacks, stroke, blood clots, and certain types of cancers, such as breast cancer. Since Provera has these risks, your healthcare provider may prescribe the lowest effective dose of this medication for the shortest amount of time possible.

What Is Provera?

Provera (medroxyprogesterone) is an oral prescription medication for menstrual periods that have stopped, abnormal bleeding from the uterus, or uterine cancer prevention.

Provera is in the progestin drug class. This means that Provera and other medications in the progestin drug class are made from progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone in your body.

Provera is available in tablet form to take by mouth.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Medroxyprogesterone

Brand Name(s): Provera

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral

Therapeutic Classification: Progestin

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Medroxyprogesterone

Dosage Form(s): Tablet

What Is Provera Used For?

Provera is approved for the following uses:

  • Secondary amenorrhea (the absence of three or more periods in a row)
  • Abnormal bleeding from your uterus due to a hormonal imbalance
  • Prevention of endometrial hyperplasia (an overgrowth of your endometrial cells)

How to Take Provera

You should always follow directions from your healthcare provider on how to take Provera. There is no general dosing schedule with Provera, as the dose and how often it’s taken will change depending on what you are taking it for.

Storage

Store Provera in a cool, dry place. In general, medications should be kept away from areas of high heat, like above your stove, or in humid places, like your bathroom. These environments can impact how well medications work.

It is also essential to keep your medications out of reach of children and pets.

Off-Label Uses

Healthcare providers may prescribe medroxyprogesterone for off-label uses, meaning for conditions not specifically indicated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some examples of off-label uses for medroxyprogesterone are:

  • Acute abnormal uterine bleeding (that your healthcare provider thinks requires immediate intervention) 
  • Treatment of endometrial hyperplasia
  • Suppression of menstrual cycles in transgender men

How Long Does Provera Take to Work?

How long it takes for Provera to work will depend on the dose that you are taking, as well as other factors such as weight, height, or age. For medication taken by mouth, it usually takes about two to four hours to get into the body and a few days to have enough medicine in your body to see its effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Provera?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects of Provera include the following:

If your healthcare provider thinks you need to be on the dose you are currently on, and you’re experiencing nausea, they may want you to be on a prescription anti-nausea, such as Zofran ODT (ondansetron).

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Rare but serious side effects can include the following:

  • Heart issues, such as strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks
  • Certain types of cancer, such as breast, endometrial, and uterine cancer
  • Dementia
  • Loss of vision

Long-Term Side Effects

Once you stop taking Provera, you may experience long-term side effects. Examples may include:

Report Side Effects

Provera may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Provera Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For prevention endometrial hyperplasia:
      • Adults—At first, 5 milligrams (mg) per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, dose is usually not more than 10 mg per day. It is usually taken everyday for 12 to 14 consecutive days per month.
      • Children—Use is not recommended.
    • For treatment of amenorrhea and abnormal uterine bleeding:
      • Adults—At first, 5 milligrams (mg) per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, dose is usually not more than 10 mg per day. It is usually taken everyday for 5 to 10 days.
      • Children—Use is not recommended.

Modifications

If you are a healthy adult, the dose of Provera generally won’t change. This drug should not be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you are a child, as the FDA has not approved it for these populations.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Provera, take it as soon as you remember. If you are close to the next dose, then skip the missed dose and take only the next scheduled dose. Do not take more than one dose at a time. If you miss a dose of Provera, your symptoms may not improve. 

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Provera?

If you take too much Provera, you will be more likely to experience the side effects of medroxyprogesterone, such as acne, nausea, or a change in menstrual flow.

There is no available antidote for a Provera overdose. Treatment for an accidental overdose will involve treating the symptoms. For example, if you are experiencing nausea, you may find relief by taking ginger.

What Happens If I Overdose on Provera?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Provera, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Provera, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and does not cause unwanted effects. Pelvic exam, breast exam, and mammogram (breast x-ray) may be needed to check for unwanted effects, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.

Check with your doctor right away if you have pain in the chest, groin, or legs, especially the calves, difficulty with breathing, a sudden, severe headache, slurred speech, a sudden, unexplained shortness of breath, a sudden loss of coordination, or vision changes while using this medicine.

Using this medicine may increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, dementia, breast cancer, or uterine cancer. Talk with your doctor about these risks.

Your risk of heart disease or stroke from this medicine is higher if you smoke. Your risk is also increased if you have diabetes or high cholesterol, or if you are overweight. Talk with your doctor about ways to stop smoking. Keep your diabetes under control. Ask your doctor about diet and exercise to control your weight and blood cholesterol level.

Check with your doctor right away if a severe headache or a sudden loss of vision or any change in vision occurs while you are using this medicine. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

Pancreatitis may occur while you are using this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.

Tell the medical doctor or dentist in charge that you are using this medicine before any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment. Your doctor will decide whether you should continue using this medicine.

Before you have any medical tests, tell the medical doctor in charge that you are taking this medicine. The results of some tests may be affected by this medicine.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Provera?

Provera should not be taken if you have any of the following:

  • Known, suspected, or history of cancer
  • Known or suspected pregnancy
  • Abnormal liver function
  • Heart issues, such as a history of blood clots, strokes, or heart attack

What Other Medications Interact With Provera?

Provera can interact with certain medications due to how it is converted in the body.

Once it enters the body, Provera is converted through proteins known as CYP enzymes. The main CYP enzyme that Provera interacts with to be cleared from your body is called CYP3A4.

Provera may be cleared from your body more quickly when taken with the following products due to their effect on CYP3A4:

It may also be cleared from your body more slowly due to CYP3A4 being inhibited by the following products:

The examples above are not inclusive of all products that affect CYP3A4. Tell your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take or plan to take, including over-the-counter (OTC) nonprescription products, vitamins, herbs, supplements, and plant-based medicines.

What Medications Are Similar?

An example of another medication in the progestin drug class is levonorgestrel, also referred to as the morning-after pill, or Plan B.

Although medroxyprogesterone and levonorgestrel are both progestins, their uses are different. Plan B is primarily used as an emergency contraceptive for preventing pregnancy following unprotected intercourse or suspected contraceptive failure.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How expensive is Provera? Is there a way to get help paying for it?

    How much you pay for your medication depends on your insurance. There is a generic, medroxyprogesterone, that you may be able to switch to that is much cheaper. If cost concerns you, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about cost assistance options.

  • How can I manage the side effects associated with Provera?

    One of the more common side effects of Provera is nausea. To help prevent it, take it with plenty of food and water.

  • What else should I do to manage my symptoms?

    In addition to regularly taking your prescribed medication, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and take up routine exercise. Discuss an appropriate eating and exercise plan with your healthcare provider.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Provera?

To stay healthy while taking Provera, take it as your healthcare provider advises. It may be challenging to take it consistently initially, but you must be consistent to treat your symptoms effectively.

It is also always important to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and eat a healthy diet as instructed by your healthcare provider. 

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

The author like to recognize and thank Chong Yol Gacasan Kim for contributing to this article.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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