Lupron is a prescription drug with a number of uses. It’s given as a daily injection under the skin (subcutaneously) or as a long-acting injection into the muscle (intramuscularly) every one, three, or four months. Patient on the medication is at risk of Lupron Depot side effects, although they range from one person to another.
Uses of Lupron
Lupron is a synthetic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH or LHRH) which resembles a natural LHRH or GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) secreted from the hypothalamus gland located in the brain. The active ingredient is Leuprorelin acetate. Naturally, without taking the medication, your hypothalamus makes use of gonadotropin releasing hormone to signal the pituitary gland located in the brain, the gland then sends a signal to a woman’s ovaries and testicles in a man for the production of estrogen and testosterone respectively. GnRH comes in pulses from the hypothalamus which stimulates the production of estrogen and testosterone. If gonadotropin releasing hormone is released from the hypothalamus gland continuously rather than in pulses, it would have a different effect and shut off hormone production temporally; when Lupron is taken, this is what it does. It over stimulates the production of estrogen and testosterone, eventually, it slows down the production of these two hormones. Because of the reduction of estrogen in females and testosterone in men, the drug is used to:
- Manage the symptoms of prostate cancer in men – in a man, the growth of some prostate cancer is supported or fueled by testosterone, hence, reducing testosterone hormone in the body deprives the cancerous cells of its fuel which makes them shrink; prostate cancer growth is slowed or stopped. It can be used to manage any stage of prostate cancer, but it’s mainly prescribed for advanced or recurrent cancers. The period for the therapy is determined by the medical care practitioner.
- To treat endometriosis and uterine fibroids; endo is a chronic condition which is painful; a tissue similar to the womb lining grows to other body parts. Fibroids are abnormal non-cancerous growths in a woman’s uterus. The tumors may be large and lead to severe abdominal pain as well as heavy periods. Though the cause of fibroids and endo is unknown, doctors believe they are stimulated by estrogen. Hence, decreasing estrogen levels stops or slows the growth of endometriosis and the size of fibroids decrease in size, thereby relieving the symptoms of these conditions. In a woman with fibroids, vaginal bleeding is decreased and anemia is prevented. Treatment for fibroids may go for three months, if wanted effects haven’t been attained, the treatment may be continued for a maximum period of six months, for endo, the therapy takes six months.
- It also used in women to thin the endometrium (uterus lining) prior surgery such as endometrial ablation, which is a procedure to destroy the endometrium to treat abdominal uterine bleeding. The injection is given between the third and the five day of the menstrual cycle, at least five weeks before the surgery.
- It’s used in boys below the age of nine and in girls under eight years to slow down the early onset of puberty. But when the child stops taking the medicine, normal development continues.
- It’s used as a fertility drug during in vitro fertilization for artificial ovulation induction
The nurse or the doctor may take you through training on how to give the injection under the skin. The procedure is simple and easy to recall. Remember to inspect the solution for discoloration as well as particles prior use every time. Rotate injection sites as recommended by the physician to avoid side effects of Lupron on the injection spot. Also, long-acting form of this drug is given into the muscle by the health care professional at appropriate intervals. It’s critical to get the injection at the correct time, don’t miss an appointment at the doctor’s office to receive the shot.
The Lupron side effects are numerous; the drug affects individuals differently since it’s used by children, male and female. Before you start using the drug, discuss the benefits and the risk of the medicine. A good number of the side effects can be managed and will go away after a few days or weeks. It’s always advisable to seek medical attention if they don’t clear and turn out to be irritating.
Below are the common negative effects in men:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Gynecomastia (abnormal enlargement of breast)
As for women, they are at risk of being faced with:
- Vaginal dryness
- Hair loss
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in breast size
The following are the general unwanted effects:
- Reaction at the injection area such as pain, redness, swelling
- Difficulty sleeping
- Hot flashes
- Loss of appetite
- Weight changes
- Abdominal pain
- Liver problems or jaundice
- Decreased bone density
- Formation of blood clots in lungs
Because of the risk of the negative effects, the drug should be used with caution by:
- Individuals with diabetes; their blood sugar levels should be monitored carefully in the course of the treatment as it may affect blood glucose
- People with a history of depression or at risk of getting it
- Individuals with osteoporosis and those with a history of the condition
- Individuals who consume alcohol excessively or smokers or have a history of the same
- People who are at risk of their condition worsening when the treatment is started, especially men are more prone to this
- Males whose cancer has spread to their spine
- Males with urinary obstruction
Pregnancy, breastfeeding and drug interactions
A few drugs shouldn’t be used during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding. Nevertheless, other medications may be used provided the benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the fetus. Before taking any drug, it’s crucial to inform the medical care provider if one is pregnant or planning to conceive.
As for Lupron, it’s advisable to be avoided during pregnancy as it can be harmful to the unborn baby. To prevent unwanted pregnancy, a female should use a non-hormonal method of birth control for example condoms. Using the medicine during breastfeeding is highly discouraged as it’s not known if it passes through breast milk.
To avoid possible drug interactions while on Lupron, inform the health care practitioner about all the medications you are using like:
- Cancer drugs
- Medications for depression
Bear in mind the above list doesn’t include all the possible drug interactions such as non-prescription, vitamins, supplements and herbal products; contact the physician for more information. After you have stopped using the drug, you need regular checkups because you are prone to Lupron long-term side effects.