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The birth control shot - also known as depo medroxyprogesterone acetate - is a birth control method made of the hormone progestin. It is like the hormone made by your body and keeps you from getting pregnant in two ways:

  • It keeps the eggs from leaving the ovaries.
  • It makes the cervical mucus thicker. This keeps sperm from getting to the eggs.

Before getting the shot, it's important to know the most common benefits, risks, side effects, and other choices you have. We are happy to answer any questions.

What are the benefits of the birth control shot?

First of all, there's nothing you have to do before sex to make the shot work. Second of all, it can protect you from:

  • Cancer of the uterus
  • Pregnancy in the tubes (ectopic pregnancy)
  • Heavy periods
  • Anemia (when the blood doesn't have enough iron)
  • Bad cramps

How well does the birth control shot work?

For every 100 people who DO get each shot on time for a year, only 1 will get pregnant. For every 100 people who DO NOT get the shot on time for a year, about 6 will get pregnant.

What are the risks of the birth control shot?

Temporary bone thinning - bone thinning increases the longer you use it. Bone growth begins again when you stop using the shot. There's also a slightly greater risk of rare, serious problems like heart attack and blood clots that could cause damage to your lungs, heart or brain. The risks go up if you:

  • Are older than 35
  • Smoke
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have had a stroke, heart attack or angina

What are the side effects of the birth control shot?

You may have:

  • Irregular bleeding - including bleeding more days than usual, spotting between periods, or no periods. This is most common during your first year. After 12 months, about half of all people using the shot stop getting their periods.
  • Nausea - usually clears up in 2 or 3 months
  • Sore breasts - usually clears up in 2 or 3 months
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain - some people gain a lot of weight on the shot
  • Depression
  • Slight bruising where the shot was given
  • A small, permanent dent in the skin where the shot was given (very rare)
  • A delay of 9-10 months in getting your period back and being able to get pregnant after shopping the shot

Besides the birth control shot, what are my other choices?

There are many other methods of birth control. We can talk about any of these options with you and help you with whatever you decide to do.

Can I use the shot?

People with certain health problems can't use the shot. Talk with your doctor or nurse about your risks and health problems. It will help you decide if the shot is right for you.

How do I take the shot?

You get the shot at the health center about every 13 weeks. There are two types:

  • One is injected into the muscle
  • The other injected just under the skin. It has a lower dose of hormone.

To get the shot, make an appointment with your nearest Planned Parenthood location.

What else do I need to know about the birth control shot?

If you get side effects from the shot, there is no way to stop them. They may continue and you may need treatment until the shot wears off.

To protect your bones, stop smoking, limit your alcohol intake, get regular exercise and get extra calcium, either through your diet or by taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements.

Read the package insert that comes with the shot. The information provided may be different from ours. Let us know if you have questions.

The shot does not protect from sexually transmitted infections.

Your health is very important to us. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 314-531-7526. We are happy to help.