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What is the birth control shot?

The depo shot (AKA Depo-Provera) is an injection you get from a nurse or doctor once every 3 months. It’s a safe, convenient, and private birth control method that works really well if you always get it on time.

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How does the birth control shot work?

The birth control shot (sometimes called Depo-Provera, the Depo shot, or DMPA) contains the hormone progestin.  Progestin stops you from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation.  When there’s no egg in the tube, pregnancy can’t happen. It also works by making cervical mucus thicker. When the mucus on the cervix is thicker, the sperm can’t get through. And when the sperm and the egg can’t get together, pregnancy can’t happen.

Does the shot protect against STDs?

No. The shot is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers the chance of getting or spreading STDs. The other great thing about condoms is that they also protect against pregnancy, which means that using condoms along with the shot gives you awesome pregnancy-preventing power!

How do I make the shot work best for me?

To get the shot’s full birth control powers, you have to remember to get a new shot every 12-13 weeks. That’s about every 3 months, or 4 times a year. The shot must be given to you by a doctor or a nurse so you have to make an appointment and then remember to go to the appointment. It sounds simple, but sometimes things come up so you plan for that.

You can start using the birth control shot whenever you want. If you get your first shot within the first 7 days after the start of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy right away. If you get it at any other time in your cycle, you need to use another form of birth control (like a condom) for the first week after getting the shot.

After your first shot, it’s all about remembering when to get your follow-up shots. Here are some tips to make sure you stay on top of it:

  • Use a birth control reminder app or set an alarm on your phone.
  • Add it to whatever calendar you use on a daily basis.
  • Ask friends, family members, or your partner to remind you.

Bottom line: do whatever works for you to make sure you get your follow-up shots about every 12-13 weeks.

If you’re 2 or more weeks late getting your shot, your doctor or nurse may ask you to take a pregnancy test, or tell you to use emergency contraception if you had vaginal sex in the previous 120 hours (five days).

Want to be extra, super sure you don’t accidentally get pregnant? Also use a condom every time you have vaginal sex. Condoms are the only way to help protect yourself from STDs, so using the shot with condoms is the way to go.

The Shot

  • 94% effective

  • Costs up to $100, but can be $0

  • Injected by a doctor or nurse

  • Get it every 3 months

The shot doesn’t protect you from STDs. Use a condom with the shot to help stop pregnancy and STDs.
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