The Shot

The shot is just that – a shot. It is often called “Depo,” short for Depo-Provera. There is a second option available called Sayana Press. Either one will keep you from getting pregnant for three months. Both Depo and Sayana Press contain progestin, a hormone that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens your cervical mucus to help block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

Quick facts:

  • Long-lasting, private, and good hormonal option for women who cannot take estrogen.
  • Effectiveness: the shot is very effective – if you get each shot on time (every three months)
    • Perfect use: greater than

      99%

    • Typical use:

      94%

  • Side effects: most common are irregular bleeding and increased appetite, leading to weight gain
  • Effort:medium – you need a shot every 12 weeks.

The Shot

Quick facts:

The shot is just that – a shot. It is often called “Depo,” short for Depo-Provera. There is a second option available called Sayana Press. Either one will keep you from getting pregnant for three months. Both Depo and Sayana Press contain progestin, a hormone that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens your cervical mucus to help block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.

  • Long-lasting, private, and good hormonal option for women who cannot take estrogen.
  • Effectiveness: the shot is very effective – if you get each shot on time (every three months)
    • Perfect use: greater than

      99%

    • Typical use:

      94%

  • Side effects: most common are irregular bleeding and increased appetite, leading to weight gain
  • Effort:medium – you need a shot every 12 weeks.

No pregnancy for three months. If you do not want to take a pill every day, the shot might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something once every 12 weeks. You will need to visit a doctor or clinic to get your shot.

Total privacy. No one can tell when you have used the shot. There is no packaging and nothing you need to do before you have sex.

Yes, there are needles involved. If you are scared of needles, then Depo is not for you. Keep in mind that it is one shot, and you are done for three months.

It is a love/hate thing. The shot is something that some people LOVE and some people HATE. If you hate it, think about using a different method at the end of three months.

Pregnancy. It is possible to get pregnant as soon as 12 weeks following the last shot, though for some women it can take around 9 months for fertility to return. If you are not ready for a baby3 months after your last shot, get another shot or use another method.

You do not do much if you choose the shot. Just make sure you get a shot every 12 weeks.

If you live in a country where self-injection of Sayana Press is allowed, then we recommend visiting injectsayanapress.org for more information about how to self-inject Sayana Press.

When you first start using Depo or Sayana Press, discuss your period with the person giving you the shot. It will help determine how soon after the shot you will be protected.

It is very important to get your shots on time. If you are more than two weeks late for an injection, you may need a pregnancy test before the shot.

Tips and tricks

Spotting improves with time. So give it time —two or three shots. (That is 6-9 months after the first shot.)

Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another woman.

The Positive: there are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.

  • Easy to use
  • Does not interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Private – no one will know unless you tell them
  • You do not 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 cannot take estrogen
  • It is very effective at preventing pregnancy – if you get the shots on time
  • You can use it while you are breastfeeding

The Negative: everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they are not a problem. Remember, you are introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.

The most common complaints:

  • Irregular bleeding, especially for the first 6-12 months (This could mean longer, heavier periods, or spotting in between periods)
  • Change in appetite or weight gain (It is common for some women to gain 2-3 kg in the first year.Other women gain nothing.)

Less common side effects:

  • 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 is no way to stop the side effects of the shot. If you still feel uncomfortable after six months, or two shots, switch methods and stay protected.

* For a very small number of women there are risks of serious side effects. Talk to the person who gave you the shot if you are worried about the side effects that you are experiencing.

We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you use another method while you switch.

Should I be concerned about spotting?

  • Spotting can happen with many different methods. You do not lose that much blood with spotting, even though it might seem like it.
  • Still not working? You may have more luck on a pill with a slightly higher dose of estrogen, or one that provides estrogen during a different part of your cycle.
  • Try a different method: IUD; pill

What if I cannot afford the shot?

  • Birth control can be expensive, but raising a baby costs even more.
  • Another solution might be to ask your partner to help pay for the expense.

What if this impacts my desire to have sex?

  • First, what else in your life could cause a change in your sex drive?Are you stressed? Are you having relationship issues? Try to exercise more, or experiment in the bedroom.
  • Still not working? If you have looked at other things in your life that might cause the loss of sex drive and still thinkit is the shot, think about switching to the pill, the patch, or the ring (which have less hormones and are easier to stop using if the problem persists) or an IUD (which has low or no hormones). You could also try non-hormonal methods such as the diaphragm, male condoms, or female condoms.
  • Try a different method: IUD;patch;pill;ring

What if I want to get pregnant soon?

  • You cannot reverse the shot, so if you already had the shot you will have to wait. Three months after your last injection you should be ready to start trying. Be patient – sometimes it can take up to 10 months after the last shot for fertility to come back completely.
  • Still not working? If you want to become pregnant sometime in the near future, consider using one of the hormonal methods. The pill, patch, ring, or IUD all allow a faster return to fertility than the shot. You might also consider a non-hormonal method, like male condoms or female condoms.
  • Try a different method: condom; internal condom; IUD; patch; pill; ring

Why am I getting headaches?

  • Headaches are not a common side effect with the shot. If you have bad headaches, first think about other reasons that you may have them. Try to minimize stress, drink more water to prevent dehydration, and make sure you are sleeping enough. If that does not help, then talk with a health provider about the headaches.
  • Still not working? If you cannot find another reason for the headaches and want to switch methods, consider the IUD, pill, patch, or ring.
  • Try a different method: IUD; patch; pill; ring

Why do I feel moody?

  • Mood swings are not a very common side effect of the shot, so think about what else in your life could be causing moodiness.
  • Still not working? The shot is a hormone, so if moodiness is still an issue, think about using a shorter-acting, lower-dose method, such as the pill, patch, or ring. You could also try either type of IUD.
  • Try a different method: IUD; patch; pill; ring

Is the shot bad for the environment because of the hormones in female urine?

  • Any form of birth control is better than no birth control when it comes to the environment.
  • Some of the hormones from the shot will enter the environment through a woman’s urine. But it is smaller than other sources of estrogen in the environment.
  • Estrogen from industrial and manufacturing processes, fertilizers and pesticides, and the drugs given to animals all enter the environment in larger amounts than the estrogen in a woman’s urine from the shot.
  • If you do not want to add hormones to the environment or your body, there are options for you. Natural latex condoms and the copper IUD are both good options. Whatever you decide, pick a method and keep using it.
  • Still not working? If would like to use a very effective method without any hormones, try the ParaGard IUD.
  • Try a different method: IUD