University Health Services

Depo Provera


Birth Control injection given every 12 weeks

Depo Provera is a hormonal substance (Progestin) that prevents ovulation (egg production) in a woman from occurring for 12 weeks.

Basic Information

  • Intramuscular (into the muscle) injection into either the upper arm or buttocks
  • Failure rate less than 1 pregnancy per 100 women per year with injections 12 weeks apart and first injection is in the first five days of your period
  • Reversible form of birth control. Most woman can obtain pregnancy within a year of discontinuing Depo Provera
  • Does NOT protect from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (including HIV/AIDS). PLEASE also use condoms!!

Why You May Not Be Able to Use Depo Provera

  • Known or suspected pregnancy
  • Undiagnosed vaginal bleeding
  • Known or suspected breast cancer
  • Active blood clots or current or past history of clot disorders in the legs, lungs, or eyes: or if you have had a stroke
  • Liver disfunction or disease (recent mono, hepatitis, growth)
  • Known sensitivity to Depo Provera or to any of its ingredients. Have you ever had an allergic reaction to local anesthetic at the dentist?

Possible Side Effects

  • Weight gain. Average is 5 pounds, increases your appetite.
  • Menstrual irregularity- usually spotting. Possibly no periods by second or third injection.
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Tiredness, weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Depression, nervousness
  • Nausea
  • No hair growth or loss or thinning of hair
  • Skin rash or increased acne
  • Increase or decrease in sex drive

Severe Side Effects that require emergent care (ER)

  • Sharp chest pain, coughing of blood, sudden shortness of breath
  • Sudden severe headache, vomiting, dizziness, or fainting
  • Visual disturbance (double vision, blurred vision, spots before your eyes)
  • Speech disturbance (slurred or unable to speak)
  • Weakness or numbness in arm or leg
  • Severe pain or swelling in calf or leg
  • Unusually heavy vaginal bleeding (unlike usual periods)
  • Severe pain or tenderness in lower abdomen or pelvis

Steps to Take to Begin or Continue Depo Provera

  • Have a well woman exam including PAP, pelvic, and breast exams
  • First injection should be in the first five days of your period (you will want to have your PAP prior to this)
  • Continuing injections are every 12 weeks
  • Pregnancy testing is required prior to every injection

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