• An injection (shot) given by a clinician every 3 months.
  • It does contain any estrogen; it is only progestin.
  • 99.7% effective

How Does It Work?

  • Depo-Provera prevents the body from releasing an egg (ovulation). When an egg has not been released from the ovaries, sperm cannot fertilize the egg.
  • The mucous on the cervix is thickened, making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.
  • It also causes changes in the lining of the uterus, making it less likely for an egg to attach to the uterus.

Correct Use

  • A pregnancy test, recent physical exam and Pap test should be done prior to receiving the first injection.
  • Because even the most sensitive test can’t detect pregnancy in the first two weeks, it is important to abstain from sex or only have protected sex two weeks before the first injection.
  • The first injection should be given within the first five days of a normal menstrual period, within five days after childbirth for non-breastfeeding women, or six weeks after childbirth for women who are breast-feeding.
  • The shot is given in the buttock or upper arm every three months.
  • It is important to return to the clinic every three months for follow-up shots. If you’re more than two weeks late for the follow-up shot, you may not be protected against pregnancy and will be required to have a pregnancy test before the next shot.

Side Effects

  • The most common side effects include:
    • irregular menstrual bleeding
    • loss of period (amenorrhea)
    • weight gain
    • headache
    • nervousness
    • stomach pain or cramps
    • dizziness, weakness or fatigue
    • decreased sex drive

  • Use of Depo-Provera may cause you to lose calcium that is stored in your bones.
  • The longer you use this method the more calcium you’re likely to lose.
  • The calcium may not return completely once you stop using Depo-Provera.

Changes in Periods

  • Initially you may just have slight spotting.
  • If injections have been received regularly every three months, lack of a period does not mean you are pregnant.
  • Once the drug is discontinued periods usually return within 3-10 months after the last injection.

Fertility After Use

  • Depo-Provera is not a good choice for women who want to become pregnant in the next year or two.


  • Depo-Provera should not be used when pregnant, with vaginal bleeding of unknown cause, cancer of breast or reproduction organs, history of stroke, history of phlebitis (blood clots) in legs, history of liver disease, or if allergic to Depo-Provera or any of its ingredients.
  • CALL IMMEDIATELY IF any of the following occur after an injection of Depo-Provera:
    • Sharp chest pain, coughing of blood, or sudden shortness of breath.
    • Sudden severe headache or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, problem with eyesight or speech, weakness or numbness in an extremity.
    • Severe calf pain or swelling.
    • Unusually heavy vaginal bleeding.
    • Severe pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area.
    • Persistent pain, pus, or bleeding at the injection site.

More on the birth control shot

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