Contraceptive Injection (Depo Provera)

WHAT IS IT?

The contraceptive injection is typically referred to by its brand name, Depo Provera, as ‘Depo’ or as the birth control shot. It is a type of synthetic progesterone but does not contain estrogen. It is a very effective and reversible form of birth control that is given by injection via a needle. A doctor or nurse will give the injections once every 3 months (11-13 weeks). Depo is potentially a good option for people who have difficulty remembering to take their pills, or like the convenience of only having to get a shot 4 times a year.

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Depo Provera is a medication that one of our doctors can prescribe for you. We can sell you Depo right here in our Centre. A doctor or nurse will give you the injection of Depo Provera in a muscle (usually the upper arm or buttocks). You will get the first shot when you are having your period, and then you must come in every 11-13 weeks for your  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.

 

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?

Depo is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if you get your injections every three months. Based on typical use (such as receiving a shot late), it is 94% effective.

Depo Provera does NOT offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

 

WHAT ARE THE RISKS/SIDE-EFFECTS?  

Irregular bleeding is a common side effect that will usually decrease or stop within the first few months of beginning injections. Most people will experience spotting on and off, bleeding more frequently, or may not bleed at all. You may also stop your periods, but this is not harmful. You may continue to experience irregular bleeding for 6-8 months after stopping Depo.

Depo Provera can result in decreased bone mineral density with more loss the longer it is used.. This may increase the risk of bone fractures. The reduction in bone mineral density can be reversed after stopping Depo Provera.

Other side effects include headaches, mood changes, weight gain, dizziness, bloating, and decreased sex drive.  

 

USING DEPO PROVERA

The ideal time to have your first injection is within 7 days of the start of your period. Backup protection (like condoms) should not be required if you receive the injection during this time period.The injection can be started at any time during your cycle. If you have the injection after your period has ended it is recommended that you use backup contraception for at least 7 days.  

Back up contraception should not be necessary if you receive your next injections on time.

If you have waited longer than 13 weeks between your injections, you will need to do a pregnancy test and use backup protection for 7 days following your late injection.

 

DOES IT AFFECT MY ABILITY TO BECOME PREGNANT AFTER STOPPING?

  • People who wish to become pregnant in the next 1 to 2 years should consider a different birth control option first.
  • It is reversible but takes a longer time for people to return to fertility than other methods. 50% of people who wanted to become pregnant were able to do so within 10 months of stopping the injection. It took some people up to 18 months to return to fertility.

 

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 and it is reversible
  • You only have to get an injection once every 3 months
  • Can reduce periods or you may no longer get a period
  • Can reduce cramping and premenstrual symptoms
  • Is not affected by taking most other medication  
  • May reduce the risk of getting uterine (endometrial) cancer and fibromas
  • May reduce symptoms of chronic pelvic pain or endometriosis if you suffer from these conditions
  • May reduce the number of seizures in people with epilepsy
  • You don’t need to keep any birth control supplies at home
  • May be an appropriate option in people who cannot take estrogen  
  • May be an appropriate option in people who are breast feeding
  • May be an appropriate option for people over 35 who smoke

DISADVANTAGES:

  • It contains hormones and therefore has side effects. Some people may experience hormonal side-effects such as a change in sex drive, increased acne, headaches, breast sensitivity,mood changes/depression.
  • A common side-effect is irregular bleeding. This can mean lighter bleeding, no periods, heavier bleeding, and/or bleeding more often between periods.
  • Can cause decreased bone mineral density, which may return to normal after stopping
  • Can cause weight gain or change in appetite
  • 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 are not protected against STIs
  • It may take 6 months to 18 months after stopping Depo Provera injections to become pregnant.

 

HOW TO BOOK AND PREPARE FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT

Booking an appointment with us is easy! Give us a call at 902.455.9656 ext. 0. You will be speaking with either a volunteer or a medical administrator. We cannot book appointments by email or Facebook. You cannot book an appointment for someone else, even if they are your partner or child. We will need to speak with them directly. To book, we will need your full name, birth date, phone number, and a very brief reason for your visit. That’s it! The person on the phone will outline anything you need to know to prepare for your appointment. For most general appointments, we run very short waitlists! While this is not a guarantee, we can often book you in within 1-2 weeks from the day you call.

Make sure you bring your valid provincial health card with you to your appointment. Clients without health cards are subject to doctors and lab fees.

Are you a youth? You do not need parental consent for any of our appointments.

Don’t have access to or lost your health card? You are entitled to your health card information! Call MSI toll-free at 1-800-563-8880 (in Nova Scotia) or at 902-496-7008 from Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. We require the number and the expiry date. Another tip: take a picture of your card! You will never lose it again!