Depo-Provera - ("The Shot") - Medroxprogesterone

What is it?

Depo-Provera is an injectable method of birth control that is given as a shot. It protects against pregnancy for a full three months. Each injection contains progestin, a hormone much like the one women produce during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. The shot is given in the upper arm or in the buttocks.

How does it work?

It prevents ovulation - that is the release of an egg from the ovary (and also the ripening of the egg). If no egg is released, no pregnancy can occur. The hormone also thickens the mucus in the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.

How do I use it?

You MUST visit your health care provider or clinic every 13 weeks for the injection. You must have your first injection within 5 days of the beginning of your menstrual cycle to ensure that you are not pregnant.


Easy to use, a highly effective method. You have lighter periods and fewer menstrual cramps. The shot does NOT contain estrogen (which increases the risk of heart problems and stroke). You do not have to remember to take a pill every day. Immediately effective after injection, there is no waiting period as with the pill.


This method does not protect a woman from STDs! You need to use a condom with it if you may be at risk. You must visit your clinic or health care provider on time every 13 weeks for your injection. Some women complain of soreness in the area of the injection for a couple of days afterwards.


The percentage of pregnancies in the first year of use is reported as 0.3%. Among women who use Depo-Provera only about 2-3 in 1000 will become pregnant in the first year. To be this effective you must get your shot on time.

Side Effects

Irregular periods: 70% - 80% of women will have irregular bleeding during their first year of use. This means spotting and bleeding in between your periods. After one year of use, some women stop having a period all together. After two years that number goes up to 75%. This is not harmful to you, but you should make sure you are not pregnant with a pregnancy test. Some women report breast tenderness, it may be uncomfortable, but it is not considered to be dangerous.

Weight Gain: On average women gain about 3 - 5 pounds a year while using Depo-Provera.

Bone Loss: To protect your bones against bone loss, (osteoporosis), get regular exercise and take a calcium supplement at night. This side effect will disappear when you stop using Depo-Provera.

Other Side Effects: Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and anxiety.

When to call the doctor or health care provider?

Call your doctor or clinic if you have chest pain, severe vomiting, heavy bleeding, coughing up blood, if your leg or arm becomes suddenly numb, if you have severe dizziness, pain in the calf, severe pain in your lower abdomen, yellow skin tone, or a bad headache.


Copyright © 2005 Sex Ed 101. All Rights Reserved
No part of this web site may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.
Sex Ed 101 shall not be liable for any errors in content of this site see disclaimer.