Contraceptive Injection (Depo Provera®)

WHAT IS IT?

The contraceptive injection is typically referred to by its brand name, Depo Provera, or as ‘Depo’. It is a type of synthetic progesterone (one of the female hormones), which is a very effective form of birth control. It is given by injection (needle). You receive an injection every 3 months (11-13 weeks), and this prevents pregnancy.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Depo Provera is a medication that the doctor prescribes for you. A doctor or nurse will give you the injection of Depo Provera. You will get the first shot when you are having your period, and then you must come in every 11-13 weeks for following shots.

The main way Depo Provera works is by preventing ovulation. This means your ovaries will not release an egg each cycle. It also thins out the lining of the uterus and thickens the mucous in the cervix. For more information, please visit Pfizer.ca: Depo Provera.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?

It is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if you get your injections every three months. Depo Provera does NOT offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING DEPO?

ADVANTAGES:

  • it is very private – no one can tell you’re using it
  • the chances of getting pregnant are very low
  • you only have to get an injection once every 3 months
  • you might not get cramps before and during your period
  • you may use this method if you are breastfeeding
  • your chances of getting some kinds of cancer are lower
  • you might be able to use this method even if you cannot use the birth control pill
  • you don’t need to keep any birth control supplies at home

DISADVANTAGES:

  • it contains hormones
  • once you have been given an injection of Depo Provera, you cannot reverse its effects. You need to wait for the medication to “wear out”, which takes at least 3 months
  • you will have irregular bleeding; some women stop having periods completely
  • it is an injection, which may cause discomfort
  • you must arrange to go to the doctor or clinic every 3 months for the injection
  • you might get some side effects like weight gain, headaches, dizziness, bloating, tender breasts, mood changes, and changes in bone density (osteoporosis)
  • you are not protected against STIs
  • if you want to get pregnant in the future, it may take 6 months to a year after stopping Depo Provera injections