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How Does It Work?

Leuprolide works by decreasing the amount of testosterone (in males) and estrogen (in females) made by the body. It is a synthetic form of the naturally occurring gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a hormone that controls the release of two other hormones from the pituitary gland (a tiny gland located beneath the brain): luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). These two hormones stimulate production of sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) in the ovaries and testicles.
Normally, when GnRH is released by the body, LH and FSH levels increase and more sex hormones are produced. Because leuprolide is similar to GnRH, an initial rise in sex hormone levels is seen when the medication is first given. However, after two to four weeks, leuprolide overstimulates the pituitary gland so it stops releasing LH and FSH. As a result, the testicles do not make as much testosterone and the ovaries do not make as much estrogen.

When and How to Use Leuprolide

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with leuprolide include the following:
  • This medication comes in the form of a subcutaneous (just under the skin) or intramuscular (into the muscle) injection. It can be given once a day, monthly, or once every three to six months, depending on the particular product used.
  • The injection may be given by your healthcare provider in a healthcare setting or self-administered. If you are giving the injection to yourself (or your child), your healthcare provider should show you exactly how to do it. Make sure to ask questions if you are unsure about any of the steps.
  • The injection site should be periodically changed to protect the skin from too much irritation.
  • Do not use leuprolide if it contains particles or is cloudy or discolored.
  • For this drug to work properly, it must be used as prescribed. Do not stop using it because you feel better. Stopping treatment too soon may cause your symptoms to return.
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Leuprolide Acetate Drug Information

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