Depo-Provera (Depo shot)

What is Depo-Provera?

Progestin also thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to reach the egg for fertilization.

A health care provider administers the Depo-Provera shot either in a woman’s arm or buttock. The contraceptive effects of the shot last for 14 weeks, although shots should be administered every 12 weeks for consistent protection.
More birth control options

Safety and effectiveness of Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera is 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. Like all hormonal forms of birth control, Depo-Provera does not provide protection against any forms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Who should not use Depo-Provera

Most women may safely use Depo-Provera, including women who cannot take estrogen or who are breastfeeding. However, women who are pregnant, or who have unexplained vaginal bleeding, breast cancer, liver disease, or blood clots should not take Depo-Provera.

Benefits of Depo-Provera

The protection from each Depo shot lasts three months, so there is no daily pill or activity to remember before sex. The shot offers a high level of privacy to users, since there is no packaging or products to keep track of at home.

Some women are not able to take estrogen due to medical conditions or breastfeeding, so an added benefit of Depo-Provera is that it does not contain estrogen, a common component in other hormonal types of birth control such as the pill, patch, or ring.

Risks associated with Depo-Provera

The most common side effect of Depo-Provera is irregular bleeding from the vagina. This type of bleeding usually gets better with ongoing use. After receiving birth control shots for one year, about 50 percent of women will stop having periods while using Depo-Provera. If a woman wants to get pregnant after using the Depo-Provera shot, it may take six to 18 months after the last shot is given before their normal cycles return and they are able to conceive.

Depo-Provera side effects

Some side effects associated with the Depo-Provera shot include:

  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight gain
  • Loss of sexual interest
  • Increased facial and body hair growth
  • Hair loss

Women who are using the shot will also experience a loss of bone mineral density. This is reversible; their bone mineral density will return to normal when they stop using the medication.

For healthy women, Depo Provera does not increase their risk of bone fractures when they are using it or later when they go through menopause. Women who have low bone mineral density or at increase risk of it based on certain medical conditions should consult a physician prior to using Depo Provera.