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How Effective Is Depo-Provera For Birth Control?

5 min read

Women have numerous options when it comes to birth control. Some women do not prefer pills as they worry about taking it every day and there are more chances that they may forget to take the pill, which can result in unnecessary pregnancy. They, therefore, prefer a method, which is both simple and appropriate. Depo-Provera, commonly known as Depo, is one of the top choices of the women, as it is both simple and convenient and will very effectively prevent accidental pregnancy when compared to other birth control methods. Continue reading to understand more about the depo shot.
depo shot

What Is Depo Shot?

Depo shot is a contraceptive shot, which consist of an artificial form of the hormone progesterone called depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA). This shot is administered by a doctor either in the arms or buttocks. Once taken, the shot remains effective for up to 12 to 14 weeks. Be it is advisable for the women to get a shot at regular intervals of 12 weeks to ensure maximum protection.

How Does Depo Shot Work?

Depo-Provera can start working straight away if the shot is taken within the first five days after the beginning of a normal menstrual cycle. The shot contains a synthetic version of the progesterone hormone to prevent pregnancy. The depo shot stops the pregnancy in the following ways:

  • The depo shot suppresses the ovulation, that is, it prevents the releasing of mature eggs from the ovaries. Without the egg, fertilization and, thereby, the pregnancy will never take place
  • The depo shot makes the cervical mucus thicker. Thickened mucus act as a barrier stopping the sperm from getting to the egg
  • The depo shot changes the lining of the uterus thus preventing implantation. It makes the uterine lining and the cervix is not receptive to fertilized eggs, thereby preventing implantation even if somehow the egg is fertilized
How Much Does It Cost To Get The Depo Shot?

A single shot can cost around Rs. 50 or above if taken from a government hospital. The cost of the shot is likely to go up and varies in every private hospital or clinic.

Advantages Of Depo Shot

The advantages of depo shots include:

  • When it used properly at regular interval of 12 weeks, the Depo shot is 99% effective. Only 3 in 1,000 women may become pregnant on the depo shot
  • Depo shot is less costly than other birth control methods
  • Despite the fact that the shot should be taken every 12 weeks, this long-term protection in one shot is more convenient than most of the other birth control measures like pills, which a woman has to remember to take every day
  • The possibility of not having periods while on shot will be advantageous for those who experience pain and heavy bleeding during monthly periods
  • Depo shots are found to prevent uterine fibroid, ovarian cancer etc
Disadvantages Of Depo Shot
  • The main disadvantage of depo shot is it will take a while for a woman to get pregnant after stopping the shot. Therefore, the woman should stop taking the shots several months before her plan to get pregnant
  • Depo shot results in loss of bone minerals and its long-term use increase the chances of osteoporosis
  • Depo shots will not be able to provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
  • Weight gain is another major disadvantage that worries the women on the depo shot
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Depo Shot?

The possible side effects of depo shot are:

  • Severe allergic reaction and ectopic pregnancy are rare but serious side effects associated with depo shots
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle. Irregular or no periods
  • Loss of bone density
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Excessive hair growth or excessive hair loss

woman getting a depo shot

When Not To Take Depo Shot

How well will the depo shot work depends on things like if person has any medical condition or is on any kind of medication that may interfere with the effectiveness of the shot. Certain medical or other circumstances make the depo shot less effective or sometimes even more dangerous. Depo shot is not suggested, if:

  • You plan to conceive in near future
  • You suspect you are pregnant
  • You are genetically prone to osteoporosis
  • You have cardiac issues
  • You are a breast cancer patient
  • You are experiencing serious liver issues
  • You are experiencing porphyria, a rare hereditary disease in which involves abnormal metabolism of the blood pigment hemoglobin

You should discuss in detail with the doctor before taking the depo shot if,

  • You would like to conceive in the near future
  • You are worried about weight gain
  • You have a history of depression
  • You have diabetes
  • You have a history of blood clotting conditions
  • You have gallbladder or liver disease
When To Call A Doctor

If you have taken a depo shot and experience any of the following symptoms then it is advisable to call the doctor:

  • You become extremely depressed
  • Have unusually heavy periods
  • Severe pain in the lower tummy
  • Continuous pain in your leg as his can be a sign of a blood clot
  • Experience severe headaches
  • Have signs of jaundice like yellowing of skin and whitening of eyes
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Cough up blood as this can be an indication of clot in the lungs
  • Partial or complete blindness that you make experience all of a sudden. This might indicate clot in the eye
Can I Get Pregnant After I Stop Using Depo Shot?

Before thinking about pregnancy on depo shot it is important to know that the synthetic progesterone in the shot can persist in the body for up to one to two years.

  1. The first measure you have to take for getting pregnant when you are on depo shot is to stop getting the shot and wait for the effect of the shot to wear off
  2. Be patient. Even though some women are able to conceive within three to four months after stopping the shot, many of them take up to two years to conceive. Longer the woman has been on the shot, the more time it will take for her to conceive
  3. After stopping the depo shot, following a detox diet will help to flush out the synthetic progesterone lingering in the body and the liver. However, it is important to ask a doctor before following a detox diet as sometimes the herbs used in the diet can be unsafe for some underlying health issues
  4. Drink a lot of water and stick to a healthy balanced diet
  5. Start to take prenatal medicines like folic acid and daily vitamins

Did any of you use depo shot as a birth control measure? Please share your experience in the comments

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