Nowadays, there are numerous options of birth control for both men and women. One of them is Depo-Provera. Many women choose Depo-Provera, simply known as depo shot, over other methods because it’s simple and convenient. Depo shot allows a woman not to worry about taking a pill every day. So, what is Depo-Provera? Can you get pregnant on the Depo shot?
Brief Information about the Depo Shot
Injection contraception is an injection of the drug “Depo-Provera”. It consists of synthetic progesterone (progestin). The drug is administered to women once every three months. It effectively prevents the onset of unwanted pregnancy. Usually the injection is made in the muscles of the upper arm or in the buttock.
However, if you plan to get pregnant in the coming year, then this method does not suit you! The fact is that after the injection of Depo-Provera, the restoration of fertility (the woman’s ability to conceive) takes about a year after the last injection.
You should also be aware that injection contraception absolutely does not provide protection against HIV / AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STDs). Therefore, if you have more than one partner, or you are not sure of the health status of your regular partner, then you should additionally use condoms during each sexual intercourse.
How Does Depo-Provera Prevent Pregnancy?
Moreover, if you still have ovulation (which is unlikely to happen), the progestin strongly thickens your cervical mucus, making penetration of the sperm impossible. Thus, spermatozoa cannot enter the cervix, get into the fallopian tubes and meet with the egg to fertilize it. Progestin also makes the inner layer of the uterine mucosa very thin, which prevents the egg from being implanted into the uterus.
Side Effects of the Depo Shot
The most common side effects of depo shot are unpredictable (that is, irregular) menstrual periods and vaginal bleeding (or spotting) between menstruation.
In three months after the first injection, these side effects begin to disappear. Over time, in most women, menstruation ceases at all. By the end of the first year, in 50% of women who received depo shot, menstrual bleeding had stopped, and in 2/3 of women menstruation stopped after two years. But in some women (about 1%) after the injection, on the contrary, the periods become longer and more severe, and do not stop even after two years.
During the first year, a slight increase in weight (about 5.5-7.5 lbs.) is observed in women. Some women notice that their appetite increases. Therefore, if you decide to use this method of contraception, you should pay attention to your diet and start exercising.
Progestin can lead to loss of calcium stored in your bones. This leads to a decrease in bone density. The longer you use progestin, the higher is the risk. For this reason, doctors do not recommend using this method for more than two years in a row. Loss of calcium in this case – is a reversible process. So after stopping the use of progestin-containing drugs, your bones begin to saturate with calcium again.
Headaches are another side effect of Depo-Provera for some women. The following side effects are less common:
- change in sexual desire;
- dryness of the vagina;
- hair loss;
- growth of facial and body hair;
- acne on the face;
- skin rash;
- increased sensitivity or soreness of the breast.
Some women notice an increase in depression or the occurrence of unexplained anxiety after injecting contraceptive drugs.
When Does One Need to See a Doctor Immediately?
Serious problems after injection of Depo-Provera are rare, but if any of the following symptoms appear, consult a doctor immediately:
- severe headaches or their worsening;
- pain or soreness in the lower part of the peritoneum, in the abdomen or in the pelvis;
- unusually severe vaginal bleeding;
- itching, bleeding, severe pain or suppuration at the injection site;
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
Also, always consult a doctor if you suspect that you are pregnant; if you notice a tumor in your breast; if you have vaginal discharge, characteristic of genital tract diseases (STDs) or if you are simply concerned about the reaction of your body to the injection of Depo-Provera.
Can You Get Pregnant on the Depo Shot?
It’s clear that no birth control provides 100% guarantee. That’s why, there is still a possibility that pregnancy can take place even after the Depo shot.
Can you get pregnant on the depo shot? The chances are low. The failure rate for Depo Provera is around 0.3%. It means that only three women out of a thousand get pregnant while using it.
Even though the Depo shot is meant to prevent pregnancy, there is still a chance to get pregnant even after the depo shot. Here are some of the reasons why the injection may not work:
- Wrong time. The first shot wasn’t performed within the first 5 days of a normal period and you have had sexual intercourse before the shot. It means that you were already pregnant before the shot.
- You had unprotected sex within the first month of the injection before it became absolutely effective.
- You did not get the next shot within 12 weeks after the first Depo injection.
Sometimes there are cases when women get pregnant on the Depo shot even if they follow all the rules. The reasons are unknown.
Just keep in mind that the only 100% birth control method is no intercourse at all. All other contraceptives methods are 99% or lower. If you want to prevent pregnancy while on the shot and be 100% safe, use an additional method of contraception like a condom or spermicide.
If you still got pregnant on the shot, stop making the injections immediately and contact your healthcare provider. There is little or no increased risk of birth defects. At the same time, in some countries, it is reported that babies conceived while their mothers were on the shot may have a lower birth rate.
When Can You Get Pregnant after Canceling the Depo Provera?
Pregnancy rarely occurs earlier than 6 – 12 months after the last dose of the drug. Therefore, if you want to try to get pregnant in the next year, then it is better to choose another method of contraception, which is quickly reversible.
As a rule, ovulation in a woman resumes in 3-6 months after the last injection. Still, the conception of the child may take several more months. In 20% of women, pregnancy occurs within 6-7 months. In 50% – within 7-9 months, and in 30% – within 1-2 years.
You can learn about the resumption of ovulation, when you restore a regular period. Before trying to get pregnant, be sure to visit a gynecologist, and start taking folic acid or multivitamins for pregnant women.