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What is Depo Provera Birth Control Shot?



Depo Provera is a type of birth control shot or contraceptive shot. Simply referred to as a “depo shot”, this birth control shot is a hormonal injection that can prevent unplanned pregnancy. This is considered a family planning injection for 3 months.

The contraceptive shot contains progestogen which typically suppresses ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg. In addition, it thickens cervical mucus, to keep sperm from reaching the egg. Depo Provera is a well-known brand name for medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), C₂₂H₃₂O₃. It is also known as 6α-methyl-17α-hydroxyprogesterone, a synthetic pregnane steroid with a molecular weight of 344.5g/mol. 

Depo Provera shot is available in a lower dosage, called Depo-SubQ Provera 104, which is Depo Provera 150 mg.  Even though Depo- SubQ Provera 104 is injected just beneath the skin, while Depo-Provera is injected deep into the muscle, both have similar benefits and risks.


Depo shot effectiveness is famous among other birth control shots. This makes this brand more popular compared to other contraceptive shots.

This birth control shot effectiveness is expressed in the following benefits:

  • It is convenient.
  • No need to take it daily.
  • Decreased menstrual blood flow.
  • It causes reduced mental cramps and pains.
  • It reduces the risk of endometrial cancer by 80%.
  • Eliminated interruption of sexual intercourse for contraception.
  • In some cases, it stops menstruation but restores the blood flow when its usage is discontinued.
  • It is almost 100% effective (as only 1 in every 100 women using it is reported pregnant).
  • Its injection lasts 13 weeks before you can take another dose.
  • It is possible to miss some dosages in daily pill-taking associated with other contraceptives.
  • Long duration gives it an advantage over other contraceptives.
  • No other person needs to know if you are using it.


Just as there are benefits, depo conceptive shot also has some disadvantages. They include:

  • Depo shot lasts for 13 weeks and cannot be withdrawn when you experience serious side effects from it until the weeks elapse.
  • It can cause irregular or longer-than-usual bleeding (especially during the initial months of its use; often improving with time).
  • It has been associated with a reduction of bone density, which may not be permanent after stopping it.
  • It doesn’t protect you from STIs (therefore, the use of condoms during sex is necessary).
  • It may cause weight changes (some people add weight, while others lose weight), although this doesn’t apply to everyone.
  • Getting pregnant after 1 depo shot takes a while. Delay in returning to being fertile (which may take 10 months or more, before you begin ovulating again), after discontinuing it.
  • It may cause allergic reactions, which disappear with time.


Depo shot is the most widely accepted and most effective birth control shot. Depo Provera’s side effects are limited, which occur mostly at the early stage of its administration, and go away with time.  Research has shown that Depo Provera records almost 100% success in controlled unplanned pregnancies. Despite all its merits, some people may not be privileged to use the shot. 

Your healthcare consultant might discourage you from using Depo Provera if you have:

  • “Had” liver cancer.
  • “Had” breast cancer.
  • A history of depression.
  • Risk factors of osteoporosis.
  • Unexplainable vaginal bleeding.
  • Previous history of heart attack/stroke.
  • Plans to get pregnant in the next few months.
  • Allergic reaction to any component of Depo Provera.


Depo birth control shot side effects include the following:

  • Acne.
  • Bloating. 
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Nervousness.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Losing of the hair.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Weakness and fatigue.
  • Decreased interest in sex.
  • Depression or mood swings.
  • The probability of osteoporosis.
  • Irregular periods and heavy bleeding.
  • Probability of loss of bone mineral density.
  • Delayed fertility after discontinuing Depo Provera.

Delay in giving birth may be up to 10 months or more before you begin ovulation again.


You will need your doctor’s prescription. Your doctor will do the following, before prescribing the shot for you:

  • Review your medical history.
  • Check your blood pressure.
  • Carry out a pregnancy test.

A Depo Provera dose or shot is best taken in a hospital or healthcare center. Ensure you’re not pregnant or don’t intend to get pregnant in the next few months.

Depo Shot Schedule

Depo-Provera is an injective and intramuscular contraceptive. It is advisable to use alternative contraceptives, such as condoms, along with the injection for at least 7 days from the day from start, as a backup. Your doctor or nurse (whatever case) may likely give you your first injection within 7 days of the start of your period. 

If you have just given birth, your first injection will be done within 5 days of giving birth, even if you are breastfeeding. However, Depo Provera can be taken at other times, but you need to take a pregnancy test. 

  • Your doctor or muse will clean the injection site (either upper arm or buttocks) with an alcohol pad, and give you a shot of the Depo-Provera.
  • Don’t squeeze or rub the injection site after a shot.

Depo shot period lasts 13 weeks (approx. 3 months). Maintain a medical record, which must state the exact date of each dose, for future reference. Backup birth control is not necessary after subsequent injections provided you take them on due dates.

Points to note about Depo Provera schedule:

  • Depo-Provera should be given every 3 months.
  • If you wait longer than 13 weeks between injections, you might have to take a pregnancy test before your next injection.
  • Discontinue the use of Depo Provera after 2 years of constant usage.
  • Don’t start another injective contraceptive after discontinuing Depo Provera.
  • Further use exposes you to serious risks of osteoporosis.


Depo shot cost is not fixed, it varies in different countries and locations. However, the U.S dollar rate is often used as a scaling system. 

Depo Provera price in the U.S is between $100 to $150 for one shot. But in some cases, medical insurance covers this birth control shot and it is given at no cost at all.

Other Alternatives of Depo Provera Birth Control Shot

Medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), the most widely used progestin, is the only objective and different companies have produced this consecutive shot under different brand names. Some include:

  • Sayana Press

Another DMPA, which is also of 13-weeks duration, has the same functions and side effects almost similar to those of the Depo Provera shot. It is given under the skin of your outer thigh or your abdomen (your stomach or tummy, as it is fondly called).

  • NET-EN

This is another injective contraceptive, and an intramuscular dose, that can last 8 weeks; also known as:

  • Syngestal.
  • Noristerat.
  • Norethisterone enanthate (NETE).


  • Can you get pregnant or have no periods while on Depo Provera?

If deep injection stops your periods, you cannot get pregnant. Irregular bleeding is the most common side effect of Depo Provera, especially in the first six months of use.  For some women, periods become fewer and lighter, and may even stop.

  • How will I know if I’m pregnant on the Depo shot?

Women who get pregnant while using birth control may notice the following signs and symptoms: a missed period, implantation spotting or bleeding, tenderness, or other changes in the breasts.

  • How many injective contraceptives can you have?

You can continue having the injections to protect against pregnancy if you’re sexually active and don’t currently wish to have children. This is only based on if you find the method suitable for you and you have regular checkups with your doctor. Note that longer usage is likely to affect our bone mineral density.

  • What if I miss an injective contraceptive pill?

If you miss an injective contraceptive, you will not be protected against pregnancy. Depending on the type, injections last 4─13 weeks. The amount of hormone which is injected to prevent unintended pregnancy will only last around 4─13 weeks. It is important to keep a good record of the dates you take contraception.

  • Does the injective 3-month contraceptive make you gain or lose weight?

Some women do experience weight gain with Depo Provera. Others to do experience weight loss. However, there are groups of women who remain unaffected. If you experience a change in your weight, speak with your healthcare provider.