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Exploring the Birth Control Shot

Depo shot, Depo-Provera, contraceptive injection – whatever you choose to call it, the birth control shot is available for women looking to expand their birth control options. Before you roll up your sleeve, take a deeper dive into this option and determine if it’s the right choice for you. 

What does the shot do?

Common forms of birth control include oral pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs), however, this form is an injection. Planned Parenthood explains that the shot contains progestin, and this hormone stops you from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation. It also works to make the cervical mucus thicker making it difficult for the sperm to get through to the egg.

How often do I have to get the shot?

The shot is an effective form of birth control, but similar to other methods, it reaches its peak effectiveness when given in proper doses. Mayo Clinic recommends getting the shot every three months (or 13 weeks.) That comes out to 4 times per year.

Why do women choose this method?

This form of birth control is used to prevent pregnancy and treat other medical conditions related to menstruation. Some birth control methods require women to take the treatment daily, so the shot is a good alternative with less maintenance. The shot also only contains the hormone progestin. If you want or need to avoid estrogen-based birth control, the shot may be the right alternative. Here are a few more benefits to the shot from Mayo Clinic:

  • Eliminates the need to interrupt sex for contraception
  • Decreases menstrual cramps and pain
  • Lessens menstrual blood flow, and in some cases stops menstruation

What should I know before I make my decision?

Like with any other birth control method, it’s important to understand the different ways your body may react. Here are some considerations from Mayo Clinic:

You might have a delay in your return to fertility. It can take up to 10 months (and potentially more) for your ovulation to restart after stopping the shot treatments. Talk to your doctor about this timeline if you plan to become pregnant soon after stopping this birth control method. 

Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs.) The shot is an effective form of birth control for pregnancy prevention but should not be relied upon to prevent the transmission of STDs. Talk with your partner(s) and doctor about other ways to protect against STDs.

Tips for keeping up with your shot

While the shot doesn’t require you to take a pill everyday, you still need to get your injection every 12-13 weeks. Planned Parenthood gives some tips to remember your injection times:

Set a reminder on your phone. The day you get your first shot, set a recurring reminder for every 12 weeks. If you want to take it a step further, set another reminder every 10 weeks to actually schedule your next shot appointment!

Use a birth control reminder app. There are a plethora of birth control apps that can help remind you to make your appointment. Find an app that works for you, set your first injection date, frequency of shots and let the app do the rest! 

Ask friends, family members or your partner to remind you. Rely on the support system in your life to help keep you on track. If you have a friend that gets the shot, crown yourselves “birth control buddies” and remind the other to schedule treatments. If you want to involve your partner, they can help you remember too. 

At the end of the day, use a method that will work for you. If you forget about your next shot and are 2 or more weeks late for your next treatment, your doctor or nurse may ask you to take a pregnancy test. 

If the shot sounds like the option for you, schedule an appointment with your Gyn provider to discuss your first injection. We’re here to answer your questions and help you take charge of your birth control!