In this month’s issue of the reproductive health journal Contraception, our very own research department has published its first research project. The study, “Self-Administration of subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate for contraception: feasibility and acceptability,” followed 50 women for 1 year as they self-injected the contraceptive into their thigh or belly. (Find a link to the article’s abstract here.)
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Depo (aka DMPA), it is a progestin-based hormonal contraceptive method that is injected every three to four months by a healthcare professional, intramuscularly (in upper buttocks or upper arm). It is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, though it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
Depo is routinely given in healthcare settings intramuscularly, though another formulation exists that can be administered subcutaneously into fatty tissue in the belly or upper thigh.
The objective of the study was to assess feasibility and acceptability of self-injecting the subcutaneous method, Depo SubQ. Subjects were enrolled in one of two health centers, were taught self-injection by research staff, and after successfully injecting in the health center, were sent home with three additional doses of the medication for at-home use. Subjects were then asked to complete a short survey regarding their experience with self-injection, including how easy/difficult it was, how willing/unwilling they were to recommend the method to a friend, whether they had any side-effects, and how satisfied/unsatisfied they were with the method.
Survey results concluded that participants felt the method was convenient (95%), easy (87%) and recommendable to others (94%). Twenty percent of injections were met with difficulty, most commonly cited as plunger resistance.
Though we do not currently offer this formulation of Depo in our health centers, it has already been approved for use by the FDA and we hope our contribution will lead to better uptake of the method.
We are very proud to have contributed to such a respected scientific journal, and look forward to continuing to contribute to the reproductive science community! We’re Planned Parenthood – and we’re more than you think!
So, would you be willing to self-inject your birth control method?