Prescription Options

Depo-Provera Birth Control Shot

February 19, 2018


Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone) is a reversible method of prescription birth control. Also called DMPA, Depo shot, or even the birth control shot, this hormonal contraceptive method is only available by injection. One shot protects against pregnancy for several weeks.

How It Works

Depo-Provera slowly releases the progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate and protects against pregnancy for a period of 11 to 14 weeks.

Depo-Provera works by preventing ovulation and by thickening the cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from entering the fallopian tubes and fertilizing an egg that may have been ovulated.

Two Versions

Currently, there are two distinct variations of Depo-Provera. With the exception of those few differences noted below, both shots work exactly the exact same manner and provide the same level of maternity protection.

  • Depo-Provera Injection: The original Depo-Provera formula has to be injected into a muscle and is injected into the buttock or upper arm. You must have a shot four times a year (every 11 to 13 months ) to maintain Depo-Provera’s high effectiveness rate. You are protected from pregnancy promptly after receiving each dose. This alternative includes 150 milligrams of medroxyprogesterone acetate.
  • Depo-subQ Provera 104 Injection: This the version contains 31 percent less hormone than the original Depo shot at 104 milligrams of medroxyprogesterone acetate. Because it has a lower dose of progestin, it can result in fewer progestin-related side effects. The subQ stands for subcutaneous, which means this newer shot just must be injected under the skin, into a muscle, therefore it’s a bigger needle and might cause less pain. Depo-subQ Provera 104 must be injected into the thigh or abdomen four times a year (every 12 to 14 weeks). It also provides immediate pregnancy protection.

    Pros and Cons

    The advantages / disadvantages comprise:

    • It’s highly effective and discreet. You will not be at risk of becoming pregnant because of needing to take a pill or use a barrier method.
    • The Depo-subQ Provera 104 injection is FDA approved for the treatment of endometriosis-related pain.
    • Depo-Provera has a black box warning about potential bone loss:”Women who utilize Depo-Provera may lose significant bone mineral density (BMD).”
    • A lot of women report intermittent bleeding (spotting) and/or prolonged bleeding while using Depo-Provera. But a positive side effect is that menstrual periods usually end after six months of usage.
    • It may take as much as a year to recover your fertility after quitting Depo-Provera use.
    • Some studies reveal weight gain with all the Depo-Provera shot. The maker says women gain an average of 5.4 pounds the first year and will have gained 8.1 pounds from the end of their second year.
    • Common Depo-Provera side effects include abdominal pain or discomfort, dizziness, headache, weakness, fatigue, or anxiety.
    • It shouldn’t be used for more than two decades.

    Who Would Use It

    This method may be a safe birth control option for many healthy women. It’s crucial that you discuss your entire medical history with your physician before getting a Depo Provera injection.

    Depo-Provera is not recommended for women with the following:

    • Breast cancer
    • Thrombophlebitis, a history of thromboembolic disorders, or cerebral vascular disease
    • Risk factors for osteoporosis: bone disorder, excessive smoking or alcohol, a family history of osteoporosis, obesity, anorexia, or usage of steroid medication
    • Significant liver disease
    • Adolescent girls, since this is a Vital period for bone mineralization
    • Undiagnosed vaginal bleeding
    • Wish to become pregnant within the next year

    Associated Costs

    Beneath the Affordable Care Act, many insurance programs must cover physicians’ visits associated with birth control and the injection is free under most programs. Medicaid also should cover the cost of this contraceptive method. Any changes to the Affordable Care Act may affect whether insurance plans cover contraception. Check with your own insurance plan to see exactly what your policy and costs may be.

    If you do not have health coverage or insurance by Medicaid and must cover pocket to get the medical examination, your cost may be as much as $250 for your first trip as much as $150 for additional visits.

    Prices for your injections alone vary, but the typical price for each injection may vary between $30 to $75. The total cost for a full year of use may change from $200 to $600, depending if extra office visits are required. You could also incur added costs if you’re over two weeks late to your next scheduled shot as your doctor may expect a pregnancy test prior to your next injection.


    Depo-Provera is 97% to 99.7 percent effective. This means that with perfect use, less than 1 out of every 100 women who use Depo-Provera will become pregnant in one year. With typical usage, 3 out of every 100 women who use Depo-Provera will eventually become pregnant.

    STD Protection

    Depo-Provera provides no protection against sexually transmitted diseases. You must use a condom.