The Birth Control Shot: What It Is, What It Does, And How It Affects You

The Depo-Provera birth control shot is an injectable contraceptive. Learn more about how it works and possible side effects

We are firm believers that every woman should have access to the type of birth control that works for her.

We also believe knowledge is power, and want you to be informed before you choose. There are a lot of different contraceptive options and it’s important to find the one that fits your needs today. So, as part of our series on the different types of birth control options, here’s what you need to know about the birth control shot.

What is the shot?

The birth control shot, Depo-Provera, is another form of of hormonal birth control containing progestin. Instead of taking an oral dose, your doctor injects this type of contraception once every three months.
How does it work?

The progestin in the shot stops ovulation so your ovaries don’t release an egg every month. Just like the pill, it also changes cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to reach an egg if one should be released.


This birth control method is incredibly simple. Instead of taking a pill at the same time every day, you just need to pop by your healthcare provider’s office every 12 weeks.

You also don’t need to carry a pill packet around with you or leave it sitting in your bathroom where house guests can see it. If you don’t want the world to know you’re on birth control, the shot is a good way to do it. Others may like the fact that after 6-9 months of use, many women stop getting their periods.

You don’t have to think to yourself every time the mood strikes, “did I remember to take my pill” or “does he have a condom?” It’s pretty much worry-free and with perfect use is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Whether you like it or not depends totally on your body, . Many women get the shot and experience no side effects at all, so if that’s you, that’s great!


Some women experience undesirable side effects with the shot, just like they do on the pill.

These side effects can range from moodiness, a change in sex drive, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, breakthrough bleeding and weight gain or change in appetite. And unlike the pill, you can’t just stop taking the shot - since it lasts for 3 months.

Another negative for some women? You have to get a shot. Which means there are needles every three months. If you’re not a needle person, this method may not be for you.

If you would like to get pregnant within a year, you may want to try a different method as well. While some women can get pregnant as fast as 12 weeks after their last shot, for others it may take between 9 months to a year for their bodies to be ready for pregnancy.

And lastly, without perfect use, the shot is only about 94% effective. This means if you miss a shot or get it later than you should have, there is a 6% chance you could get pregnant.

Your birth control, your choice.

You deserve the facts about your birth control, and you deserve birth control options. While injectable contraception works for many women, other women can’t or don’t want to deal with getting an injection or the possible side effects.

A Shameless Plug

If you have been using Depo and are interested in using a natural method, consider using the Dot smartphone app. It’s a hormone-free way to track your menstrual cycle, predict your periods, and help you plan for or prevent pregnancy. In the app, there are special instructions in the FAQ for getting started if you are transitioning from using the birth control shot. Hint: Track After your protection period is over, track your cycle for 3 periods before using Dot for pregnancy prevention. Dot is available for iOS and Android.

What’s your favorite form of birth control?


"Birth Control Shot." Planned Parenthood(blog). Accessed March 25, 2018. "Choosing Between the Birth Control Pill or the Depo-Provera Shot." Healthline(blog). Accessed March 29, 2018.

"Depo-Provera (contraceptive Injection)." Mayo Clinic(blog), January 16, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2018.

About Dot

Developed by Cycle Technologies, Dot™ uses a patent-pending contraceptive technology based on Dynamic Optimal Timing™. Learn more about Dot on our website and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. To subscribe to our newsletter, please click here.

#womenshealth #contraception #birthcontrol #birthcontrolshot #DepoProvera

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