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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 protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Depo-Provera is a birth control method for women. It is made up of a hormone similar to progesterone and is given as a shot into the woman's arm or buttocks. Each shot provides protection against pregnancy for up to 14 weeks, but the shot must be received once every 3 months. Depo-Provera does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Where can I get Depo-Provera?

You must receive the shot from a doctor. The shot is usually given within five days of the beginning of your menstrual period.

How is Depo-Provera used?

Once the shot has been given, no additional steps are needed to prevent pregnancy. With Depo-Provera, you must receive another shot once every three months to remain fully protected.

How soon does it work?

Protection begins immediately after the first shot if given during a menstrual period.

How effective is Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

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

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

You should discuss the potential side effects of Depo-Provera with your doctor.

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.

Can I become pregnant after I stop using Depo-Provera?

With Depo-Provera, you could become pregnant as soon as 12 to 14 weeks after your last shot. It may take some women up to a year or two to conceive after they stop using this type of birth control.

Does Depo-Provera protect against sexually transmitted diseases?

No. To help protect yourself from STDs, use a male condom each time you and your partner have sex.

What are the advantages of using Depo-Provera?

  • You don't have to remember to take it every day or use it before sex.
  • It provides long-term protection as long as you get the shot every three months.
  • It doesn't interfere with sexual activity.
  • It's over 99% effective.
  • It's less expensive than the Pill.

What are the disadvantages of using Depo-Provera?

  • It can cause unwanted side effects.
  • It does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • It can cause irregular menstrual periods.
  • You need to stop taking Depo-Provera several months ahead of time if you plan to become pregnant.
  • Regular doctor visits can be inconvenient.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/1/2009…#4086