Table Of Contents
- What is a Birth Control Shot?
- How Does the Shot Prevent Pregnancy?
- What Are the Benefits?
- What Are the Disadvantages?
- How Effective is the Shot?
- How Safe is the Shot?
- How to Use the Shot?
What is a Birth Control Shot?
This birth control method is commonly known by the brand name Depo-Provera (or DMPA). The hormone shot comes in a form of an injection. After each injection, it prevents pregnancy for up to three months.
How Does the Shot Prevent Pregnancy?
It releases hormones just like any other birth control methods. These hormones are chemicals that control different parts of the body.
The progestin in the shot works by:
- Making cervical mucus thicker in a woman which doesn’t allows sperm from getting into the eggs
- Allowing eggs not to join the sperm by keeping eggs in the ovaries
What Are the Benefits?
The shot is safe, simple and convenient to use. It provides an effective solution to prevent pregnancy for up to three months. Some of the other benefits include:
- Prevent cancer of the lining of the uterus
- Private method of birth control (no messy packaging left around)
- No daily pill reminder
- Contains no estrogen (for women who are breastfeeding)
- Improvement of sex life (feel more spontaneous)
- No prep work right before having sex
What Are the Disadvantages?
Many women adjust to the shot with little to no problems but some women do have an undesirable side effect. The most common side effect is irregular bleeding. This usually occurs within the first 6 to 12 months of use.
Some of the other side effects include:
- Most women have fewer and lighter periods (after one year)
- Some women have heavier and longer periods
- Some people have light bleeding and spotting between periods
Some women may think they have gotten pregnant if they haven’t got their period. This is common and shouldn’t be a problem if the shot is used correctly. This method is effective in preventing pregnancy. If you are concerned about being pregnant, use a pregnancy test.
Some less common side effects include:
- Sore breasts
- Change in sex drive
- Increased hair on face/body or loss hair
- Weight gain or change in appetite
There are no ways to remove the side effects of this method. They will continue to wear off when the shot stops having its effect after 12 weeks (could take up to 14 weeks).
Serious side effects should be reported to a health profession immediately.
- Yellowing of eyes or skin
- Migraine with aura – flashing zigzags, seeing bright (before a bad headache)
- New lump on your breast
- Major depression
- Pain, pus or bleeding where you were giving the shot
- Prologue vaginal bleeding
How Effective is the Shot?
This birth control method is one of the effective ways to prevent pregnancy. It is more effective when you have it regularly every 12 weeks.
- 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use the birth control method as directed
- 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they don’t always use the birth control method as directed
If the method is used within the first seven days of your period, you are protected against pregnancy immediately. If you get a shot within five days after an abortion, miscarriage, or within 3 weeks of giving birth, you are projected against pregnancy.
Otherwise, you are not instantly protected against pregnancy and should be using backup birth control methods like a condom. This should be done for the first week as a precaution.
Each shot will protect you against pregnancy for a 12 week period. After every 12th week, it is important to go back to the health care provider to receive another shot. If you are two or more weeks late getting it, they will ask you to take a pregnancy test.
How Safe is the Shot?
Most women can have this birth control method safely. All methods have some sort of risks associated with it but do not use the shot if you:
- Have fragile bone fractures (breaks)
- Breast cancer
- Medication (to treat Cushing’s Syndrome)
Talk to a health professional to see if this method is right for you.
How do I use the Shot?
The first thing you need to do is get a prescription. This can be provided by a health care provider by reviewing your medical history, and a medical exam might be needed. The health care provider will be providing the injection and temporary bruising may occur.
The cost of the exam can cost $0-250 and each visit after the exam can cost $0-150. If you are two weeks later of getting the shot, you will probably need to buy a pregnancy test which generally cost $0-20.