What is the shot?
The shot (DepoProvera®) is an injection of a hormone that prevents pregnancy. The hormone is DMPA, or depot medroxyprogesterone acetate. The shot is injected every 10-15 weeks.
How does it work?
The hormone progestin:
- Is slowly released and protects against pregnancy for about 3 months
- Makes the cervical mucus thicker which helps keep sperm from traveling into the uterus
- Prevents ovulation (stops the ovaries from releasing eggs)
- Changes the lining of the uterus, which helps prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus
How effective is it?
6 out of 100 users will get pregnant each year.
What are the benefits?
- It is a safe, highly effective and reversible birth control option.
- You only need to get the shot about 4 times a year.
- You do not have to think about birth control every day or every time you have sex.
- It may make periods lighter, shorter, or periods may even stop after a few shots.
- The shot can reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease and cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer).
What are the downsides?
- It does not provide protection from sexually transmitted infections (STI). External condoms or internal condoms can be used to prevent STI.
- You must visit your health care provider every 10-15 weeks.
- Users can get pregnant after they stop using the shot, but it may take up to 12 months after the last shot to become pregnant.
- Irregular bleeding is the most common side effect, especially in the first 3 months.
- Less common side effects include changes in appetite, weight gain, breast tenderness, nausea, change in sex drive, depression, nervousness and dizziness.
- It may lead to temporary bone thinning when used over a prolonged period of time. Protect your bones by exercising regularly and getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Bone density returns to normal after stopping the shot.
- Talk to your health care provider about medical conditions such as history of or current breast cancer, anorexia or any eating disorder, and steroid use.
Where can I get it and what are costs?
- You will need a prescription for this method. You also need to remember to visit the clinic every three months for a shot.
- The shot is usually given in a muscle of the upper arm or buttocks.
- It takes 7 days for DepoProvera to begin working. During this time, you should use a back-up method of birth control.
- If after 2 or 3 months of use, you still experience some of the common side effects, talk to your health care provider.
- The shot may be a good choice for those who cannot take estrogen or are breastfeeding.
- For costs, see Costs, Insurance and Payment.
Depo has been great for relief of pain from endometriosis. No more period, but I do spot for a few days before the next shot is due. The only side effect I have noticed is minor weight gain and my sex drive has decreased a bit. I am okay with that because at least the pain is gone. I am glad I tried it, I am very satisfied with it.
Where can I get more information?
Talk to your health care provider. You can also get reliable information from Planned Parenthood.