Depo-provera shot

What is it?

  • Injection of the hormone progesterone - given every three months by a health care professional.

How does it work?

  • Stops ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries), thickens the mucus at the entrance to the womb preventing sperm getting through and thins the lining of your womb preventing implantation of a fertilised egg.

What’s great about it?

  • Very effective. Less than 1 in 250 women will get pregnant over two years.
  • No need to take pills or use something every time you have sex.
  • Contraception lasts for 12 weeks.  
  • May help heavy, painful periods or pre-menstrual tension.
  • Periods may stop or become less frequent. After 1 year 50% women have no periods and by two years most women will not have periods.
  • Not affected by other medications, vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Can be used in women who cannot tolerate or use oestrogen containing contraceptives (COC/patch/ring) e.g. overweight women.

What’s not so great about it?

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
  • Periods may be irregular, heavier or prolonged. However bleeding tends to become less frequent and lighter or stop altogether after 6-12 months.
  • Needs a regular injection by appointment with a health care provider.
  • Some women gain weight (up to 3kg over two years). Note some lose it too.
  • May cause bone thinning, however this resolves when you stop receiving injections and is not associated with broken bones.
  • Periods and fertility may take time to return after stopping the injection - average of 7 months.
  • Can cause side effects e.g. mood change, tiredness, headache. Unacceptable side effects will usually not resolve until the injection wears off (up to 12 weeks).

Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics

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