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You can get the birth control shot from your doctor or your nearest Planned Parenthood health center. It's important to make sure you get your shots on time, about every 3 months.

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Where can I get the birth control shot?

Most of the time, a doctor or a nurse must give you the shot. So you have to make an appointment at a health center, and then remember to go to the appointment. But you also may be able to get shots at the health center to bring home and give yourself. You can use our birth control app to keep track of when you need to get your next shot, and any upcoming shot appointments.

When do I need to get the shot?

The shot (sometimes called Depo-Provera, the Depo shot, or DMPA) is only effective if you get a new shot every 12-13 weeks (every 3 months, or 4 times a year).

You can start using the birth control shot whenever you want. If you get your first birth control shot within the first 7 days after the start of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy right away. If you get the shot within 7 days after a miscarriage or an abortion, you’re also protected from pregnancy right away. If you get the shot within 3 weeks of having a baby (giving birth), you’re also protected right away.

For all other times, use another form of birth control (like condoms) for the first week after getting the shot for the first time. As long as you get your shots on time, you won’t need a backup method of birth control after that first week. But remember that it’s still important to use condoms to protect yourself from STDs.

How long the depo shot stays in your system or lasts after you stop using it is a little bit different for everyone. It can take months for it to wear off. The length of time you use the shot for has no effect on how long the hormones in your shot take to leave your system. 

You can begin using a new hormonal birth control method immediately after you stop using the shot. And if you want to keep preventing pregnancy, it’s a good idea to get on a new method quickly. If you decide that you want to get pregnant right away after you stop getting the shot, you should know the shot may delay your ability to get pregnant by up to 10 months. However, some people do get pregnant soon after stopping the shot.

How long does it take for the shot to work?

If you get your first birth control shot within the first 7 days after the start of your period, you’re protected from pregnancy right away. If not, it takes a full week for the shot to become effective. It’s a good idea to wait to have sex or use a backup method like condoms for that first week. If you get your following shots on time (every 12-13 weeks), they’ll start working right away. 

If you get your shot more than 15 weeks after getting your last shot, wait to have sex or use a backup method like condoms for the first week to help prevent pregnancy. Condoms also help prevent the spread of STDs.

What if I forget to get my shots on time?

It depends on how late you are. You can get your follow-up shots as early as 10 weeks after your last shot, or as late as 15 weeks after your last shot.  But, if you get your shot more than 15 weeks after your last shot, you’ll need to use backup birth control, like a condom, for the first week after getting your shot.

If you had vaginal sex without using a condom more than 15 weeks after your last shot, you should think about using emergency contraception. You may also need to take a pregnancy test before getting your next shot.  The best way to prevent pregnancy while using the shot is to be super careful that you get your follow-up shots on time.

More questions from patients:

Where does the depo shot get injected on your body?

If a nurse or doctor is giving you your Depo shot in a health center, the shot will go in the outer part of your upper arm or your butt cheek. Your nurse or doctor may switch areas each time you get the shot. 

If you have the Depo shot that you can give yourself at home, you inject yourself in your belly or upper thigh. You’ll get instructions that show you how to give yourself your shot. If you have any questions, you can ask the nurse or doctor who gave you your shot prescription.

Is it safe to get the Depo shot if I'm breastfeeding?

Yes. The hormones in the birth control shot don’t affect your breast milk or how much milk you make, and they won’t have any effect on your baby. The shot is a safe birth control method to use while you’re breastfeeding, and it’s really good at preventing pregnancy. You can start using the shot right after you give birth.

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The Shot

  • 94% effective

  • Costs up to $150, but can be $0

  • Injected by a doctor or nurse, or yourself at home

  • 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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