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An Injectable, Long Acting Birth Control

What is Depo-Provera?

This is a form of contraceptive that is injected (as a shot) and protects you from becoming pregnant for three months. It is a hormone that is close to, but not exactly the same as the natural hormone that is made by your body in the second half of your menstrual cycle.

How does Depo-Prevera work?

It works by preventing ovulation so that an egg is not released by the ovary during your monthly cycle. With no egg to be fertilized, pregnancy cannot occur. It also causes changes in the cervical mucus that interferes with sperm reaching the egg. There are some occasions when neither of these actions prevent fertilization of the ovum (egg). Most of the time when this occurs, the fertilized egg is prevented from implanting in the uterus because the birth control hormones change the lining of the uterus so that it rejects the fertilized egg. Some might regard this as the loss of a very early pregnancy. You need to get an injection every three months or four times a year, so you don’t need to worry about taking a pill every day. If pregnancy is desired, most women can become pregnant 12 to 18 months after their last injection. It has been used around the world for almost 30 years. Many women have safely used it for more than 10 years.

Who can take Depo-Prevera?
Almost any healthy woman who wants effective birth control that prevents pregnancy 99% of the time can take Depo-Provera. This is a good option for women who cannot take estrogen. It is best for women who are in a monogamous (one partner) relationship, as it does not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Depo-Provera can be used by women who are nursing. It is recommended that women wait six weeks following delivery to receive Depo- Provera if they are nursing.
Who should not take Depo-Prevera?

You should not use Depo-Provera if you:

  • Think you might be pregnant or are considering pregnancy in the near future
  • Have abnormal vaginal bleeding without a medical diagnosis
  • Have had cancer of the breast or other female organ
  • Have active liver disease
  • Have a history of depression

Although package inserts say that women who have had blood clots, heart disease and lupus should not use depo-Provera, it may be a safe alternative to combined hormonal contraception pills. If you have any of these medical conditions, discuss using Depo-Provera with your health care provider.

What are the risks of using Depo-Prevera?
There is some evidence that using Depo-Provera for long periods of time may increase your risk of osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). Discuss an osteoporosis screening test with your health care provider and ask about recommendations for calcium supplements and certain type of weight bearing exercises to strengthen bones.
What are the side effects of Depo-Prevera?
Side effects are similar to those in women taking other hormonal methods of birth control. These include irregular bleeding, lack of periods, weight gain, headaches, dizziness, abdominal pain, acne, nausea, breast tenderness, and lower sex drive.
What are the advantages of using Depo-Prevera?
  • Very effective at preventing pregnancy
  • Only requires having it four times each year
  • Nothing extra to do before intercourse
What are the disadvantages of using Depo-Prevera?
  • Has to be taken as a shot
  • Side effects as mentioned above
  • May take a long time for the side effects to wear off
  • Does not protect from sexually transmitted disease

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