Once you get the shot, your birth control is covered for three full months—there’s nothing else you have to do. Some people call the shot “Depo,” short for Depo-Provera®. How it works: The shot contains progestin, a synthetic hormone that prevents ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.
Lasts 3 Months
› No STI Protection
The Depo Shot does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV (if left untreated, can cause AIDS). You should use a condom each time you have sex to prevent against STIs.
› no (pregnancy) worries for three months
If you’re the kind of person who would have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the shot might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something once every three months.
No one can tell when you’re on Depo. There’s no packaging and nothing you need to do before you have sex.
› Yes, there are needles involved
If you’re really that scared of needles, then check out another method.
› The pregnancy question
Your ability to get pregnant will return immediately after your next shot is due, though, for some, it can take around 9 to 12 months. But if you’re not ready to get pregnant as soon as you stop taking the shot, be sure to protect yourself with an alternate method.
› lighter periods
Some people experience lighter or no periods after a year. But for many people who are on hormonal birth control, it is very safe to not have a period.
› First Months & beyond…
Most people adjust to having the shot pretty quickly but give yourself time. After getting the shot, you may experience irregular bleeding and spotting for the first 6 to 12 months. Some experience a change in appetite or weight. If bleeding and cramping are still causing discomfort after 6 months, talk to your provider — you’re worth it!
› short-term use
The shot is usually recommended for less than 2 years at a time. It may have long-term effects, like a decrease in calcium and mass in bones. If you want to prevent pregnancy or get other benefits from this method for more than 2 years, think about another method. Talk to your healthcare provider about what’s right for you.
› have a back-up
In most cases, the shot takes about 7 days to get working the first time you use it, so use a back-up method, like a condom, during that time. In the case of an emergency (like method failure), consider using emergency contraception and talk to your provider.
Where Can I Get One?
Call a partner clinic to see if you qualify to receive this method at no or low cost. There’s an at-home version, too, but it’s not super common yet – but ask your provider if you’re interested!