What Is Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera is the brand name of longterm hormonal contraception for women in the form of injectable prescription. It is highly effective and once taken the Depo-Provera shot is effective up to 3 months in preventing conception. It’s a convenient method skipping the need to get anything out inside the uterus that could fall off.

Despite having many benefits as a hormonal contraceptive, Depo-Provera side effects give women second thoughts. Once you get a shot, there is no effective way to remove the drug from circulation until contraception duration.


What is Depo-Provera? 

The chemical name of the drug in Depo shot is Depo-medroxyprogesterone. It is an artificial form of progesterone, progestin which substitutes the low levels during different stages of the menstrual cycle. The drug works by altering cervical mucus and keeping the progesterone levels elevated.

You need to get the birth control shot from a medical practitioner.

How does Depo-Provera work to prevent pregnancy?

Depo-Provera is a synthetic form of progesterone that prevents ovulation. There are oral contraceptive pills that also prevent ovulation. However, you have to take them daily and can forget. Depo injection taken once lasts for 13 weeks, and you’re stress-free.

Other than preventing ovulation it also makes cervical mucus like it usually is near the due date. Sperms cannot cross through thick material despite running long distances.

Lastly, it changes the normal structure of endometrial lining making it unsuitable for implantation. Unless egg embeds in the wall of the uterus, it won’t receive the nutrients and oxygen from mother and die.

You don’t need to use any other contraception if you get a Depo shot. However, wearing a condom is additive to prevent getting pregnant while on Depo shot. Also near the expiry of shot, the drug becomes less effective.

All you need to stress about is getting your next shot before expiry. It will prevent even a single day without having protection against conception. Another problem with Depo or any contraception except condoms is exposure to the risk of STDs.

Keep in mind that if you’re planning to be on contraceptives for more than two consecutive years, Depo isn’t for you.

Who can use Depo-Provera?

You need to keep in mind that Depo injection isn’t for long term contraception. There are less than 1% chances that it will fail. Anyone who doesn’t have any allergic response to contraceptive pills and risk of blood pressure or stroke can.

Your doctor will decide after considering your age, weight and sexual activity.

Depo-Provera Effectiveness

Depo-Provera is a highly effective and used contraceptive. Depo-Provera shot is effective up to 3 months in preventing conception. It is a very simple way of contraception for those who don’t want to take pills or have any implants.

Depo-Provera Pros

  • The most significant advantage undoubtedly is you can have uninterrupted sex. Whichever day, time or state you can have sex and not worry about pregnancy.
  • Taking the dose is easy, and the success rate of contraception is 99.9%. You don’t have to bother about taking a pill every day. No need to go seven days off.
  • Women with heavy menstrual bleeding can also take a shot to make periods lighter. Progesterone can help prevent irregular periods by maintaining the lining.

Depo-Provera Cons

You need to go to the doctor every three months

  • Expensive than other methods
  • Irreversible for three months
  • Affects fertility until 6-10 months after stopping

Depo-Provera Side Effects

Side effects of Depo-Provera like any other biological symptoms vary on the individual level. A woman might have amenorrhoea, and others can get heavy periods from the same dose of Depo-Provera. Progesterone levels rise after taking the shot and prevent shedding off the uterine lining which makes period light. Other side effects overlap with most contraception methods.

Some of the side effects of Depo-Provera are:

  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Libido changes
  • Light-headedness
  • Irritability
  • Porous bones

Bone porosity occurs because progesterone affects calcium haemostasis. After stopping Depo, you might need calcium supplements for speedy recovery.

Hot flashes and depression are frequent in women who are near menopause. The side effects of Depo-Provera after stopping are worse. Upon leaving the drug, especially after taking for more than a year, your body can take up to 6 months to get back fertility.

Ovaries were long not functioning at all, and now they need to synthesize hormones and ovulate too. The menstrual cycle takes a lot of time to resume the normal pace because all the hormones need to form a feedback chain.

In certain extreme cases, there can be side effects like pus filling in the injection site.

Other severe Depo-Provera side effects include breast pain, depression, migraines and bleeding. Hypersensitivity response to the drug requires immediate reporting to the doctor.

Depo-Provera reviews always take of ease of getting contraception.

How much does Depo-Provera cost?

You will have to pay a higher amount first followed by a smaller charge for subsequent shots. During the first visit where the doctor would assess your risk and suitability for Depo, you could have to pay up to 200$. 

The injection itself isn’t expensive and can be for 35$. Later visits at the clinic won’t be much except a general observation and an injection, which would be cheaper. In all, you won’t have to pay more than 21$ per month for 99.99% protection from getting pregnant for two years period.

How to take Depo-Provera?

You don’t have to take it yourself. Just take care of getting it after every three months. Rest nothing is the receiver’s job. Even your OB has to only give an injection.

The doctor will first ask you about any contraceptive you’ve used before and also get a pregnancy test. After she has confirmed that you’re not pregnant, you’ll get your shot.

To be sure that you’re not pregnant before the first injection/shot, a Depo shot should be administered only:  

  • during the first 5 days of a normal period, or
  • within the first 5 days post-delivery, if you are not breastfeeding, or
  • at the 6th week after the delivery, if you are feeding your baby only breastmilk.

Though the effects of injection last for 13 weeks, you must keep getting them at a duration of 12 weeks. Keeping one week on the safe side increases the success rate of Depo-Provera.

This brings us to the next section to talk and compare the side effects vs success rate of Depo-Provera.

Depo-Provera Dosage

150 mg (using 150 mg/mL depot contraceptive injection suspension) IM every 3 months.

What if I miss a shot?

Missing a shot entirely and going for the third doesn’t sound likely. There is no hard and fast rule that you need to be continually on depo

Depo-Provera. You can skip shots and then switch contraception methods.

If you’ve delayed a shot make sure that you get a pregnancy test done before getting another shot. Also, try using secondary backup contraception if you’re forgetful of the dose.

Is Depo-Provera reversible?

The particular shot of Depo-Provera is not reversible, but the effects of the dose are. Once the expiry date comes, the drug detoxifies itself from the system.

Following the right nutritional precautions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, can quicken the regaining of fertility.

How soon can I get pregnant after stopping Depo injection?

Ovulation resumes after six months and can still be random. Tuning back the entire cycles is a long process and can take ten months to 1 year. If the woman is near menopause, then she might not be able to get pregnant even after quitting. Aged women after a Depo shot may never re-enter their reproductive phase.