Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

Depo Provera May Raise STD Risks

Injectable Contraceptive Linked to Higher Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Risk
WebMD Health News

Aug. 23, 2004 -- Women who use the injectable contraceptive Depo Provera may face a higher risk of some sexually transmitted diseases, according to a new study.

Researchers found women who used Depo Provera were more than three times as likely to become infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea over the course of a year than women who used birth control pills or nonhormonal contraceptives.

"These findings underscore the need to counsel all sexually active women who use [Depo Provera] and who are not in a mutually monogamous relationship to use condoms consistently and correctly," says researcher Charles Morrison, PhD, of Family Health International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., in a news release. "For sexually active women not in a mutually monogamous relationship, limiting the number of partners may also help to reduce the risk."

Researchers say an estimated 20-30 million women use Depo Provera, and its use is growing quickly in many developing countries with a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections. The contraceptive consists of a long-acting hormone that is injected into either the arm or buttocks four times a year.

Like all hormonal contraceptives, Depo Provera does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Chlamydia and gonorrhea are among the most common STDs caused by bacteria and about 150 million new cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are reported worldwide each year. They are responsible for a number of conditions including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

No Greater Risk With Birth Control Pills

In the study, which appears in the September issue of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, researchers compared the effect of oral contraceptives and Depo Provera on rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in a group of 819 women. Most of the women were single, 43% were black, and the average age was 22.

Over the course of a year, the study showed that 45 women developed chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Women who used Depo Provera were 3.5 times more likely to have an STD compared with women using a nonhormonal contraceptive.

Researchers found no significant increase in STD risk among women who used birth control pills.

Researchers say the study wasn't able to determine how use of Depo Provera might increase the risk of infection with a STD. But they say it's possible that the injectable contraceptive may decrease estrogen levels and lead to an increased susceptibility to vaginal and cervical infections.

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
pregnancy test and calendar
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result