Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Depo Provera injection

2006 May 16

Depo Provera is a hormone injection that a female takes every 12 weeks to prevent pregnancy.

Depo is only recommended for women who cannot use other methods of birth control, because it decreases bone density. It does not protect against “sexually transmitted infections”:/infections/.

“Make an appointment”:/about/appointments to see a doctor about Depo Provera.

h3. Depo Provera in detail

* “Not everyone should use Depo”:#warnings
* “How to get Depo”:#get
* “How Depo Provera works”:#works
* “How to use Depo Provera”:#using
* “Benefits”:#benefits
* “Side-effects”:#side-effects

h3(#warnings). Not everyone should use Depo Provera

*Bone density loss*. One of Depo Provera’s side effects is that it decreases bone density. Because of this, Depo is usually only used by young women when they cannot use other methods of birth control and preferably for a short term only.

*Delayed fertility*. It can take up to a year and a half to become fertile again after you stop using Depo Provera. Women who are planning to get pregnant within one to two years should use other methods of birth control.

*Short term use only*. Recent studies have shown that Depo Provera is suitable for short term use (2 years or less) only. Please “make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ to speak with a clinic physician or nurse if you have been on Depo Provera for longer than 2 years or to find alternative long term birth control.

“Make an appointment”:/about/appointments/ to talk to us about whether Depo is right for you.

h3(#get). How to get Depo Provera birth control

First you need to see a doctor and get a prescription. “Make an appointment”:/about/appointments at our clinic.

Once our doctor has determined you can safely use Depo, you can buy it here at our clinic and we will give you the injection (the injection is usually given in either the upper arm or the buttock).

We will teach you everything you need to know about Depo and answer any questions you have.

h3(#works). How Depo Provera works

Depo Provera contains the hormone progestin, and it provides three birth control effects.

* It works mainly by preventing ovulation so that no egg is released.
* It affects the cervical mucous, making it more difficult for the sperm to penetrate the cervix.
* It causes a thinning of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), which prevents the egg from implanting.

Depo-Provera is 99.7% effective if given every 12 weeks.

h3(#using). Using Depo Provera

Your first Depo shot should be given within the first five days of your period. Use a back-up method such as condoms for the first week after the first injection. A back-up method is not necessary with subsequent injections if they are given on time.

If it has been longer than 13 weeks since the last injection, you should have a pregnancy test, and use a back-up method of birth control (such as condoms) for one week after the next injection.

Depo-Provera can be given to a woman who has just had a baby and to women who are breastfeeding. Studies regarding the effect of Depo Provera on breast milk show either no change or a possible increase in the volume of breast milk compared to birth control pill users and women using no contraception.

h3(#benefits). The main benefit is convenience

Benefits of Depo as birth control include:

* Don’t have to remember to take it every day like “the pill”:/birthcontrol/birth-control-pills/
* Easier to maintain personal privacy than other birth control methods
* Prevents certain types of cancer (ie. endometrial, ovarian)
* Possible amenorrhea (no periods) in long term use
* Decreased risk of ectopic pregnancy
* May be advantageous in breast-feeding women– Depo may actually increase milk production

h3(#side-effects). Depo Provera side effects

In addition to the “bone density loss and delayed fertility”:#warnings listed above, Depo has the following possible side effects.

h4. Irregular bleeding is common

Most women will have irregular menstrual bleeding after they get the injection. Some women have spotting on and off, some bleed frequently, and some may not bleed at all (this is not harmful). Usually the amount of bleeding decreases with time, but bleeding will always be unpredictable.

Remember this is NORMAL for this medication. 55% percent of women will have no periods after one year of use; 70-80% will have no periods after two years of use.

Irregular bleeding is common for 6-8 months after stopping this method.

h4. Other possible side effects

* Weight gain of an average of 5-10 lbs. Good eating habits and regular physical activity should be sufficient to deal with any weight gain that may occur.
* Other side effects can include headaches, nervousness, breast tenderness, depression, and acne.
* Rarely, an allergic reaction may occur.
* Risk of breast cancer is no greater with Depo than with the birth control pill. Current recommendations include monthly self-breast exams and a breast exam performed by a physician every year. Breast cancer in the family is not a contraindication.