Family Planning

The Depo-Provera Shot

Depo-Provera is a form of birth control given by an injection (a shot). It must be given every 12 weeks and is very effective. The shot will not be effective if you wait longer than 12 weeks between injections. It contains a hormone (medroxyprogesterone acetate) that prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg and makes cervical mucous thicker so that the sperm cannot get into the uterus. The shot does not protect from sexually transmitted infections. Many woman stop having periods while taking Depo-Provera. If you continue to have periods with Depo-Provera and then miss a period you could be pregnant. An unusual period can also be a sign of pregnancy.

Advantages of Depo-Provera

  • Depo-Provera works to prevent pregnancy within twenty-four hours.
  • There are no medications to take each day.
  • There is nothing to do right before sex to make it work.
  • It decreases rate of anemia.

Disadvantages of Depo-Provera

  • Can experience change in menstrual cycle including bleeding more days than usual; spotting between periods; no period at all; or more than one of these changes.
  • Area where shot was given can be sore or bruised for a couple of days.
  • If you experience side effects from Depo-Provera there is no way to reverse these effects until the shot wears off.
  • Need to use backup method (condoms) for first seven days of first shot in case egg was already produced prior to shot.

Possible Side Effects of Depo-Provera

  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Sore breasts
  • Nausea or abdominal bloating
  • Nervousness, dizziness
  • Depression
  • Skin rash
  • Hair loss or increased hair growth on the face or body
  • Increased or decreased sex drive
  • Decreased bone density

Call Your Doctor Right Away If You Experience

  • A new breast lump
  • Headaches
  • Severe depression
  • Severe pain in the abdomen/stomach
  • Very heavy vaginal bleeding


Depo-Provera can cause a temporary thinning of bone. This will stop when you stop using Depo-Provera. To prevent bone loss it is important to get 1200 – 1500 mg. of calcium and 800 IU of Vitamin D each day in your diet or from a supplement.

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Highland Family Planning