The Birth Control Shot/Injection or “Depo-Provera”

Close-up of Depo-Provera (contraceptive injection) vial and syringe
Depo-Provera is an injectable birth control method given every 12 weeks to the user.

Depo Provera is a progestin-only hormone injection given to a user by a health care professional every 12 weeks to prevent pregnancy.

It does not protect against  sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We recommend you also use a condom to increase pregnancy protection and reduce the risk of STIs.

Make an appointment to see a doctor about Depo Provera or to learn about other birth control options.

Depo Provera in detail

How to get Depo Provera

First you need to see a doctor or nurse to determine that you can safely use Depo.  If you have it prescribed here at our clinic, you can buy it from us 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.

How Depo Provera works

Depo Provera contains the hormone progestin, and it works in three ways to prevent pregnancy:

  • Prevents ovulation so that no egg is released.
  • Thickens the cervical mucous, making it more difficult for the sperm to enter the uterus.
  • Thins the lining of the uterus which prevents the egg from implanting

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

Dep0-Provera does not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We always recommend that users also use a condom with the injection to improve protection vs. pregnancy and reduce the risk of STIs.

 Benefits of  Depo-Provera or the shot:

  • Convenient, private and there is nothing to remember every day/week/month
  • Progestin only – suitable for users who cannot use combined methods
  • Cost effective
  • After 1 year, 50% of users have no monthly bleeding
  • Decreases menstrual cramps and ovulation pain
  • Improvement in endometriosis
  • Reduction in risk of uterine cancer
  • Can be used with anti-seizure medications without reduced effectiveness
  • Slightly decreases the risk of PID (pelvic Inflammatory Disease)
  • Can be used effectively while breast feeding

Depo Provera side effects

  • Irregular bleeding is common. Most people will have irregular menstrual bleeding after they get the injection. Some users have spotting on and off, some bleed more frequently, and some may not bleed at all (this is not harmful). Bleeding frequency and amount reduces over time. Remember irregular bleeding is NORMAL for this medication. 55% percent of users 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.
  • Reduced Bone Density while using Depo-Provera but this is largely reversible even after using the method for >4 years. The loss in bone density is similar to the effect and reversal seen when breastfeeding.
  • Delayed return to fertility. The average return to fertility is 10 months after last injection. Users who are planning to become pregnant within one to two years should consider other methods of birth control if possible.

Other possible side effects

  • Weight gain is possible:average is 5 lbs in first year.
  • Other side effects can include headaches, nervousness, breast tenderness, depression, and acne.
  • Rarely, an allergic reaction may occur.

Using Depo Provera

Your first Depo shot should be given within the first five days of your period.  As an alternative, the first injection can be given anytime in the cycle if pregnancy can be ruled out. Use a back-up method such as condoms for the first 7 days 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 a condom) for one week after the next injection.

Depo-Provera can be given to a user who has just given birth 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.

Make an appointment to talk to us about whether Depo is right for you.