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Birth Control Health Center

Birth Control and Depo-Provera

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Birth control is a way for men and women to prevent pregnancy. There are many different methods of birth control; some types also help protect against sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. Depo-Provera does not protect against STDs.

Depo-Provera is a birth control method for women. It is made up of a hormone similar to progesterone and is given as an injection by a doctor into the woman's arm or buttocks. Each shot provides protection against pregnancy for up to 12 to 14 weeks, but the shot must be received once every 12 weeks to provide full protection.

Recommended Related to Birth Control

Birth Control Implants

Birth control implants are devices that are inserted under women's skin. They release a hormone that prevents pregnancy. Two similar implants available in the U.S. are Implanon and Nexplanon. However Implanon is gradually being replaced by Nexplanon. Each implant is a plastic rod about the size of a matchstick. The rods contain a form of the hormone progesterone called etonogestrel.

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How Soon Does Depo-Provera Work?

Birth control with Depo-Provera begins immediately after the first shot if given within the first five days of your menstrual period.

How Effective Is Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Again, it does not prevent spreading of STDs. To help protect yourself from STDs, use a latex male condom each time you and your partner have sex.

Can Any Woman Use Depo-Provera?

Most women can use Depo-Provera. However, it is not recommended for women who have:

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Liver disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Blood clots

It needs to be used with caution by adolescents and by women with osteoporosis because of its relation to bone loss. 

 

Are There Side Effects Associated With Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera can cause a number of side effects, including:

  • Irregular menstrual periods, or no periods at all
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive growth of facial and body hair
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of bone mineral density

Most of the side effects are not common. Change in the menstrual cycle is the most common side effect. You may experience irregular bleeding or spotting. After a year of use, about 50% of women will stop getting their periods. Their periods usually return when they discontinue the shots.

Prolonged use of Depo-Provera may result in loss of significant bone mineral density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. This risk is more likely for those who have been taking it for longer than two years, particularly when other risk factors for osteoporosis exist, such as family history and chronic alcohol and/or tobacco use. Although there are no studies to benefit its use, it is advised that all women on Depo-Provera get adequate calcium and Vitamin D (through diet and/or supplements) to help prevent osteoporosis.

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