What Are the Disadvantages of the Birth Control Shot?
Some women may have undesirable side effects while using the birth control shot. But many women adjust to it with few or no problems. Serious problems do not occur often.
Irregular bleeding is the most common side effect, especially in the first 6 to 12 months of use.
- For most women, periods become fewer and lighter. After one year, half of the women who use the birth control shot will stop having periods completely.
- Some women have longer, heavier periods.
- Some women have increased spotting and light bleeding between periods.
These side effects are completely normal. Some woman may worry that they are pregnant if they do not have a regular period. But when the birth control shot is used correctly, it is very effective. If you are concerned about a possible pregnancy, you can always take a pregnancy test.
There are also some less common side effects:
- change in sex drive
- change in appetite or weight gain
- hair loss or increased hair on the face or body
- sore breasts
There is no way to stop the side effects of Depo-Provera — they may continue until the shot wears off, in 12 to 14 weeks.
It’s important that you find a method that won’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable. If the side effects from the birth control shot continue to bother you, talk with your health care provider.
Because the birth control shot is long lasting, it can take a long time to get pregnant after getting your last shot — anywhere from 6–10 months. So, Depo-Provera is not a good birth control method for you if you’re thinking of getting pregnant soon.
Serious problems usually have warning signs.
Report any of these signs to your health care provider immediately:
- a new lump in your breast
- major depression
- migraine with aura — seeing bright, flashing zigzags, usually before a very bad headache
- pus, pain for many days, or bleeding where you were given the shot
- unusually heavy or prolonged vaginal bleeding
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
Although Depo-Provera is highly effective in preventing pregnancy, in the very rare cases where pregnancy does occur, it is more likely to be an ectopic pregnancy, which can be life threatening.
Women who use the birth control shot may have temporary bone thinning. It increases the longer they use it. Bone growth begins again when women stop using the shot. Talk with your health care provider about the risks. You can help protect your bones by exercising regularly and getting extra calcium and vitamin D, either through the food you eat or from vitamin supplements.