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Depo-Provera: The Birth Control Shot

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The Depo-Provera shot is a progesterone hormone that is injected into the muscle every 12-14 weeks.

About Depo-Provera

This hormone is injected into the muscle every 12-14 weeks. If more than 14 weeks have passed, a urine or blood pregnancy test may be ordered. If it is given every three months to 2000 women, only five will get pregnant each year. For the first three weeks, another birth control method should be used. Depo-Provera will not make a pregnant women miscarry.


  • It may cause cholesterol and other blood fats to become elevated.
  • The risk of breast cancer may be increased with the use of Depo-Provera.
  • If a pregnancy occurs or is present when taking the Shot, there may be a very small risk of birth defects in the fetus.
  • For some women, estrogen produced by the ovaries is lowered. This change can lead to thinner bones.

Side Effects

Some women may have:

  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular periods and bleeding are normal in the first few months. Irregularity can persist up to 12 months.

When stopping the shot

Your previous state of fertility will return. It may take up to a year to get pregnant, even if there aren't other fertility problems.

If you miss a shot, you may have a heavy period or irregular bleeding.

Try to avoid pregnancy for at least six months. Talk to your health care provider about using another method of birth control.

University of Washington Medical Center
Patient Education
Women's Health Care Center-Roosevelt

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