The shot is just what it sounds like--a shot that keeps you from getting pregnant. Once you get it, your birth control is covered for three full months--there's nothing else you have to do. Some people call the shot "Depo," short for Depo-Provera. (Pronounced like Johnny Depp-oh.) The shot contains progestin, a hormone that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens your cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Some women say they don't want the shot because they're afraid of needles. But what's a little prick compared to a pregnancy?
Long-lasting, private, and good hormonal choice for those who can't take estrogen.
- Effectiveness - The shot is super effective--as long as you get each shot on time.
- Side effects - Most common are irregular bleeding and increased appetite, leading to weight gain.
- Effort - You have to go for a shot every 3 months.
- How to get it - You need to head to the doctor or clinic for each shot.
- Cost - From $0-$120, but it all depends.
- STI Risk - Can't prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, unfortunately :( Pair it with a male or female condom to stay safe!
Nothing to worry about for three months - If you're the kind of person who would have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the shot might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something once every three months.
Total privacy - No one can tell when you're on Depo. There's no tell-tale packaging, and nothing you need to do before you have sex.
Yes, there are needles involved - If you're really that scared of needles, then Depo is not for you. Just think, though. It's a single shot, and you're done for three months. Weigh the options.
It's a love/hate thing - Depo is one of those methods that some women LOVE and some women HATE.
The pregnancy question - It is possible to get pregnant as soon as 12 weeks following the last injection, though for some women it can take around 9 months for fertility to return. The bottom line? Don't take any chances. If you're not ready for a baby, protect yourself.
How to use it
There's not really much you have to do in order to use the shot--just make sure to keep regular appointments with your healthcare provider. You just go to the clinic, have an exam, and get an injection. Every three months, you'll go in for another injection. Easy-breezy.
Make sure to discuss the timing of your period and the shot with your provider, because that'll help determine how soon after the shot you'll be protected.
Also, it's really important to get your shots on time. If you're more than two weeks late for an injection, you may have to get a pregnancy test before the shot. We can set you up with handy reminders so you'll never forget an appointment.
Positives and Negatives
+: Easy to use
+: Doesn't interrupt the heat of the moment
+: Super private--no one will know unless you tell them
+: You don't have to worry about remembering to take it every day
+: Might give you shorter, lighter periods--or no periods at all
+: Your birth control is taken care of for 3 months at a time
+: Can be used by women who can't take estrogen
+: It's very effective at preventing pregnancy--if you get the shots on time
-: Possibility of regular bleeding, especially for the first 6-12 months (This could mean longer, heavier periods, or spotting in between periods.)
-: Possible change in appetite or weight gain (It's common for some women to gain around 5 pounds in the first year, while other women gain nothing.)
- Other possible (but less common) side effects include: a change in your sex drive, depression, hair loss or more hair on your face or body, nervousness or dizziness, headache, nausea, sore breasts
There's no way to stop the side effects of Depo--it's not like you can go back in time and not get the shot. If you still feel uncomfortable after the course of at least two shots in a row, switch methods and stay protected. You're worth it.
Learn More about the Shot