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Depo Provera

Depo Provera – or DMPA – is a reversible method of birth control that is also often referred to as the Depo Shot or the birth control shot.

There are currently two versions of Depo Provera: the Depo Provera injection and the Depo-subQ Povera 104 Injection. Both injections generally work the same – by releasing progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate and protecting you from pregnancy for a period of 11 to 14 weeks. You must receive either shot four times per year to maintain its effective rate.

Depo-subQ Provera 104 is the newer version of the Depo shot, and contains 31% less hormone than the original shot. As such, it’s possible that this newer version leads to fewer progestin-related side effects.



What are the advantages of Depo Provera?

  • The birth control shot is a great alternative for women who don’t want the hassle of daily birth control.
  • Injections are only required 4 times a year.
  • It is a highly effective and reversible birth control option.
  • It does not interfere with having sex and allows for sexual spontaneity.
  • It does not contain estrogen, so it can be a good alternative for women who cannot take estrogen.
  • Women who are breastfeeding or who are 6 weeks postpartum can use it.

What are the disadvantages and possible side effects of Depo Provera?

  • Irregular bleeding (spotting) and/or prolonged bleeding are common during the first 3 months of use.
  • Six percent of women experienced skin reactions in the area where they got their shot. The skin around the injection may get dimpled or feel lumpy.
  • During the first year of use, most users experience an average weight gain of 3.5 to 5 pounds.
  • Women who use Depo Provera may lose significant bone mineral density.
  • You must remember to schedule your injection appointment every 12 weeks.

Who is able to use Depo Provera?

Most healthy women are able to use this form of contraception, although it’s vital that you speak with your doctor before receiving an injection. Women who should not use Depo Provera include:


  • Women with breast cancer
  • Women who are on medication for Cushing’s syndrome
  • Women at risk for osteoporosis
  • Women who have unexplained bleeding from the vagina
  • Teens
  • Women who want to get pregnant within the next year