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Is the BIRTH CONTROL SHOT (DMPA/Depo-Provera) the right method for you?

 Basics about the BIRTH CONTROL SHOT (DMPA/Depo-Provera®)

  • A contraceptive injection is given at the clinic every 12 weeks
  • It is an intramuscular injection of the female hormone progesterone
  • It works primarily by keeping the woman's egg from leaving her ovaries (ovulation). It also causes changes to the cervical mucus and endometrium.
  • The shot does not protect you from AIDS and other STD's
  • It is called by different names: DMPA, Depo or the “shot”

Couples might LIKE the BIRTH CONTROL SHOT because:

  • It works very well to prevent pregnancy
  • It lasts for up to 12 weeks at a time
  • There are no pills to take every day
  • No disruption at time of intercourse; facilitates spontaneity
  • May decrease Dysmenorrhea (cramps)
  • Breastfeeding moms can use it.

Couples might DISLIKE the BIRTH CONTROL SHOT because:

  • Offers no protection against STIs/STDs and HIV/AIDS
  • Must return to the clinic every 12 weeks for re-injection
  • Fear of needles may preclude use of this method

How well does the BIRTH CONTROL SHOT work?

Depo is more than 99% effective when injections are given as recommended.(less than 1 out of a 100 women using Depo become pregnant)

How does the BIRTH CONTROL SHOT compare with the effectiveness of other forms of birth control?

Women out of 100 that got pregnant using the methods below.

Abstinence No women
Depo Provera Shots 1 out of 100
Sterilization 1 out of 100
Contraceptive Patch 1 out of 100
IUD 2 out of 100
Vaginal Ring 2 out of 100
The Pill 3 out of 100
Male Condom 12 out of 100
Spermicide 16-21 out of 100
Diaphragm 18 out of 100
NFP/FAM 20 out of 100
Female Condom 21 out of 100
No Method 85 out of 100

How do you use the BIRTH CONTROL SHOT?

Depo is an intramuscular injection given every 12 weeks. The shot is given in your arm, thigh or buttock by your health care professional.
If you presently are using the pill or an IUD, the shot may be given at any time of the cycle.

Here are problems you might have:

Side effects will vary from one person to another. It would be uncommon for one individual to experience all of the side effects. Most side effects occur within the first month of use and gradually improve over the next two months. If symptoms persist or are especially bothersome, you should notify your health care provider. Some side effects may not go away until the shot wears off. The most common side effects may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood changes
  • All women who use Depo have a change in their menstrual bleeding:
    • You may not know when you will have a period
    • You may have spotting between periods
    • You may have longer or shorter periods
    • Most women stop having periods after using Depo for 12 months

Signs there might be a problem:

You should go to your nearest hospital emergency room if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms:

Acronym “ACHES”

  • Abdominal pain(severe)
  • Chest pain (severe or shortness of breath)
  • Headaches(severe)
  • Eye problems such as blurred vision or loss of vision
  • Severe leg pain (calf or thigh)

How soon can I become pregnant after discontinuing Depo-Provera?

It is possible to become pregnant within the first four months after discontinuing Depo.
However, some women may be unable to become pregnant for 18 months or more after the last shot.

Department of Public Health
Family Planning
3900 Sherman Way - Suite J - Riverside, CA 92503
(951)358-5192 or Email: