What is the birth control Shot?


The birth control shot is a pretty good method. It’s 99.7% effective when used perfectly, but since people have to remember to get their next shot on time, there is room for error. So with typical use, it’s only 94% effective. It does not require as much maintenance as the PillPatch, or Ring.


It lasts for 3 months (90 days). It’s a simple shot that you get in the doctor’s office. It does not even have to be a doctor’s appointment; a nurse or medical assistant can give you the shot. It’s up to you to remember to come back every 3 months, however. It’s not as easy to use as the Implant/Rod or IUD, which you don’t have to think about for several years.


The Shot contains the hormone progesterone only, called “Medroxyprogesterone”, brand name “Depo-Provera.” Click here to learn more about estrogen vs. estrogen-free birth controls. Generally, estrogen-free methods can be used for a wider range of women.

birth control shot

First, your doctor goes over all the information and explains the risks, benefits, and side effects. Since it delivers a steady amount of hormone, you will no longer ovulate (ovaries release an egg every month) or have real periods. You will have irregular bleeding/spotting, or eventually have no bleeding at all.


Some women are very bothered by this and others don’t mind. Also, every body reacts differently, so it’s worth trying. Usually as your body gets used to it, you will have bleeding, but it does not mean you will always bleed that way. I recommend all women give it a good 3-6 months, ideally a whole year, for the bleeding pattern to stabilize.


Other side effects may include bloating, headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness. These tend to get better as your body gets used to it as well. The Shot is unfortunately the one and only birth control that has been found in some studies to be associated with weight gain. This is caused by an INCREASE in appetite, however; it doesn’t just “make you blow up.” If you’re careful about watching yourself, making sure to eat the same amount as you always have, or even change your diet to eating healthier, more filling foods, then you should not have any issues with your weight.

birth control shot cartoon

The other unique side effect of the Shot is that it can cause some bone loss, so we don’t recommend it as much to teenagers who are growing quickly. Studies have found that this effect on bone health is reversed when the Shot is stopped, however.


Lastly, unlike all the other birth control methods, if you decide to stop using the Shot, it can take a while for your periods to come back. Some women really don’t like this effect, especially if they are trying to get pregnant right away.


These side effects should not keep you from trying the Shot if you feel that it’s your best option given your lifestyle and preferences. if you are on the fence between the Shot and another option, then this is worth considering. I’d highly recommend the Implant/Rod or the IUD, which are also progesterone only. They have fewer side effects!


Like all other hormonal birth control methods, you need to wait at least 7 days for it to take effect. You are not protected from pregnancy until after 7 days of using this! So use backup methods such as condoms, abstinence, or even overlapping with a previous hormonal birth control is fine, such as the PillPatch, or Ring.


If you are late for another dose of the Shot, even by 1 day, then you are NO LONGER PROTECTED FROM PREGNANCY! You’ll need to use a backup birth control method for another 7 days while you wait for it to take effect.


That’s it for the Shot! As always, feel free to message me with any questions or concerns!


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Hi! I'm Dr. Toni, a carTOONIst. I empower, educate and advocate for women and minorities through my art and coaching, while traveling nomadically. I help others also follow our hearts and live true to themselves, no matter what others say!
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