What is leuprolide (Lupron)?

Also known as the brand name drugs Lupron Depot or Eligard, leuprolide is a man-made hormone (similar to that created in the hypothalamus gland) which lowers testosterone levels in men and estrogen levels in women. This is accomplished by overstimulating the body's natural production of these hormones, which temporarily causes that natural production to stop. In men, leuprolide is used to treat prostate cancer symptoms. In women, this hormone is used to treat the symptoms of uterine fibroids or endometriosis. Leuprolide may also be prescribed to treat precocious (early-onset) puberty in children. Leuprolide is administered in the form of an injection.

Leuprolide (Lupron) is a synthetic hormone that mimics gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). Drugs like leuprolide are called GnRH agonists. Though these drugs mimic GnRH in action, their net effect is to suppress the release from the pituitary gland of both follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) and therefore, ovulation.

If given early in the cycle these drugs will cause a "flare" of pituitary gonadotropins. Long-term use of an agonist also cuts off estrogen production in the ovaries and prevents a woman from ovulating. These drugs can be used to treat endometriosis and uterine fibroids. In in vitro fertilization (IVF), these drugs are used to prevent a woman from ovulating while she takes gonadotropins to stimulate egg maturation.

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