Birth Control Depo Provera

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Depo-Provera is the brand name for medroxyprogesterone acetate (meh DROX ee pro JES te rone), a medicine used for birth control. It is a hormone that prevents the ovary from releasing an egg. It changes the lining of the uterus so pregnancy is less likely to occur. It also makes the normal mucus that lines the cervix (the entrance to the womb) thicker so sperm cannot reach the egg. An injection (shot) of Depo-Provera is given every 3 months to prevent pregnancy.

Depo-Provera may be a good choice if you have trouble remembering to take a birth control pill every day. Depo-Provera will not protect you from getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), so a condom should still be used every time you have sex.

Before Depo-Provera Is Given

Patient visiting doctor

Before Depo-Provera can be given, there are a few things you must do:

  • You must have a negative pregnancy test.
  • You must be willing to visit your doctor’s office every 12 weeks (see Picture 1).
  • If you are late for your shot, you will need a pregnancy test to restart and you may need to wait until your next period.

Other Things You Should Know

  • Your bleeding may be irregular.
  • Your periods may be infrequent or stop altogether.
  • About a third of women gain weight. Sometimes weight gain can be a lot. We will weigh you at each visit to see if you are gaining.
  • Other side effects are uncommon.

Some people who use Depo-Provera for several months develop decreased bone density (hardness). This is most likely to occur in younger teens than older teens or adults. It is not known whether the bone hardness increases again when the medicine is stopped. It also is not known whether this increases your risk of breaking a bone, now or in the future.

To Decrease Your Risk of Low Bone Density

  • Do regular weight-bearing exercises. Refer to Helping Hand HH-II-162, Exercises to Improve Bone Strength.
  • Include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D in your diet (milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products).
  • If you use Depo-Provera for more than two years, we may do a test to see if you have low bone density.

When to Call the Clinic

Call the doctor, Close to Home Center or clinic if you have:

  • Unusually heavy vaginal bleeding (periods that require 8 to 10 maxi-pads a day).
  • Severe headaches
  • Any side effects that bother you

Follow Up Appointment

You need to be seen every 3 months (12 weeks) to receive your Depo-Provera shot. If you have any questions, please ask your health care provider.

Birth Control: Depo-Provera (PDF)

HH-IV-65 8/93 Revised 1/15 Copyright 1993, Nationwide Children’s Hospital