Birth control shot (Depo-Provera®)

​What is Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera® is a prescribed hormone (a progestin) that is injected into either a woman’s upper arm or buttocks by a doctor or nurse. It is given 4 times per year, every 3 months.

How does the shot work?

It works by:

  • Stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg, this prevents pregnancy.
  • Decreasing the lining of the uterus so that it is difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.
  • Thickening the cervical mucus so that it is difficult for sperm to get to the egg.

How effective is it?

  • It is 99.7% effective against pregnancy, when taken every 3 months, as recommended.
  • Depo-Provera ® provides no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) .

Where can I get the shot?

  • A prescription is needed to get Depo-Provera ®.
  • You need to get it in a medical clinic or office as a nurse or doctor uses a needle to administer Depo-Provera ®.
  • Depo-Provera is not offered at the Brant County Health Unit

What are the advantages/disadvantages to using Depo-Provera®?


  • Nothing must be taken daily or used at the time of intercourse; therefore this method of birth control does not interrupt lovemaking.
  • It is very effective (99.7%), when taken every 3 months.
  • May decrease menstrual cramps.
  • May decrease length of period.
  • Some women may not get a period at all.


  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) .
  • May cause an increase in depression.
  • Some women may have very irregular periods.
  • Some women may gain weight.
  • May take 6-8 months for a normal period to return after discontinuing use.
  • May take 6-18 months to get pregnant after discontinuing use.
  • Some may be allergic to Depo-Provera ®, but it is very rare.
  • Side effects may continue for 8 months after your last needle.
  • Risk of osteoporosis (low bone density mass) increases after 2 years use.

What is the cost of Depo-Provera®?

  • Depo-Provera® costs about $35-45 per injection.
  • The needle is given four times per year… so your annual cost is approximately $140-$180 /year.

What if I am late for the next shot?

  • Contact your health provider. A pregnancy test is required before you receive your next shot.
  • A non-hormonal method of birth control should be used until you receive your shot and for the two weeks after your shot.

What if I miss my period?

  • If you are late for a shot, call the Brant County Health Unit or visit your health care provider to arrange a pregnancy test. Use a non-hormonal method of birth control during sex to prevent pregnancy and a latex condom to prevent STI.

You should not use the shot if…

  • You are pregnant
  • You are in your teens
  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • You have a history of a blood clot
  • You have breast cancer
  • There is anything wrong with your liver