Depo Provera, DMPA, birth control shot or simply “the shot” contains a progestin. This is similar to the hormone progesterone, which is naturally produced by the female body. DMPA is given by injection every 12 weeks and is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy. Depo-Provera is the brand name of DMPA.
How does the birth control shot work?
The depo shot is an injection you receive every 3 months to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s a safe, convenient method of birth control and it works best if you always get it on time aka within 3 months. The Depo shot contains a progestin which prevents ovulation and thickens the mucus of your cervix so that sperm can’t enter the uterus.
How effective is the birth control shot?
Depo is up to 99% effective. This means that of 100 people using DMPA consistently over a year, it is possible that 1 person may become pregnant. The key with the shot is that you consistently get a new dose every 12 weeks or 4 times a year.
If you miss an appointment, you will need to rely on a backup method of birth control like condoms or emergency contraception until your next injection has taken effect.
How long does the birth control shot take to start working?
When beginning the depo shot it’s important to know where you are in your menstrual cycle. The depo shot can start protecting you right away if you get your first shot within the first week after the start of your period. However, if you get it at any other time in your menstrual cycle, you need to use condoms for at least a week after getting the shot. From there, you should set up reminders or calendar events on your phone so you remember to get your next shot at the right time.
What are the side effects of the birth control shot?
Like all medicines, Depo Provera can have side effects. Many Depo users are able to adjust to the shot without any long term problems. Most of the negative side effects go away after just a few months once your body gets used to the hormone. Every body is different so your experience may vary.
Common Side Effects
One of the most common birth control shot side effects reported is a change to your usual period. Your period may get longer with more spotting than normal. With extended use, you might experience progressively shorter periods or no period at all. Some depo users report experiencing nausea, acne, weight gain, headaches, sore breasts, or depression.
Loss of Bone Density
Depo-Provera may also lead to decreased bone density in some people. It happens more often with extended use but it stops when you are no longer taking the shot. Your provider might recommend calcium supplements, or dietary changes to help protect your bones.
Rare Side Effects
These side effects are much more rare, but if you experience them you should seek medical attention: worsening or major depression, prolonged pain near the injection site, excessive vaginal bleeding, breast lumps, migraines with a bright flashing sensation
When can I get pregnant after I stop using the depo shot?
After you stop using Depo-Provera, it could take up to 10 months for you to become pregnant. Some people do get pregnant much sooner than this, but you should plan on not being able to conceive immediately after you stop using the Depo.