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Effective immediately, long-lasting, private, a good hormonal choice for those who can’t take estrogen

The shot is an injection that is often called “Depo”, which is short for Depo-Provera. Once you get the shot, you are covered for three months. The shot contains progestin only, which is a hormone that prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg every month. It also thickens your cervical mucous to block sperm from getting to an egg.

  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Total privacy – no one will know unless you tell them
  • Don’t have to worry about remembering to take it every day
  • Might give you shorter, lighter periods – or no periods at all
  • Can be used if you can’t take estrogen
  • Very effective at preventing pregnancy
  • Can be used with barrier methods
  • Doesn’t protect against STIs, including HIV
  • May cause irregular bleeding or spotting
  • May change your appetite or cause weight gain
  • May change your sex drive
  • May cause depression or nervousness
  • May cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, sore breasts, and hair loss or excess hair growth on your face/body

How to use

In order to use the shot, you will need to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. At your appointment your healthcare provider will give you a pregnancy exam before giving you the shot. You will then go in every three months for another injection. It is important to get your shot on time to continue pregnancy prevention. If you are more than 2 weeks late, you might need to take another pregnancy test. There is also the option for self- injections of the shot, where you can pick up the shot from your pharmacy and give it to yourself.


The shot takes little effort. You just need to remember to go for a shot or give the shot to yourself every three months.


The shot is very effective, as long as you get the shot on time. With perfect use, the shot is 99% effective, but with typical use it is 94% effective.

Side Effects

Most common side effects include irregular bleeding, increased appetite, and weight gain. Irregular bleeding is common in the first 6-12 months that includes longer, heavier periods, or spotting in between periods. It is common to gain around 5 pounds in the first year, but some never gain any weight at all! Less common side effects include a change in your sex drive, depression, hair loss or hair growth on your face/body, nervousness, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and sore breasts. Since the shot lasts for 3 months, there is no way to stop the side effects during this time. If you are over 35 and are a smoker, the shot is a better hormonal method for you since it reduces the chance of complications like blood clots. If you are still experiencing uncomfortable side effects after two shots in a row, talk to your healthcare provider about switching methods.


It is possible to become pregnant as soon as 12 weeks (3 months) after your last injection. For some, it may take up to 10 months for fertility to return to normal. If you are not ready to become pregnant, it is important to get your shot on time or use another back up method like condoms.

How to Get

The shot requires a prescription from a healthcare provider. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, find a family planning clinic near you.


You may qualify for free or discounted costs. To find out if you qualify, find a healthcare provider near you.