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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Safer Sex & Birth Control » Birth Control Experiences: Depo-Provera (the shot)

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Author Topic: Birth Control Experiences: Depo-Provera (the shot)
Executive Director & Founder
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For those looking into the different methods of birth control to find what's right for them, here's one of several threads where users can report their experiences with a given method so that other users can get a more personal idea of what using a given method is like when they're looking into what might work best for them.

If you have used or do use Depo-Provera, please report on it in the following format:

Pros: List what you have experienced as the pros or benefits -- the good parts -- of using this method.

Cons: List what you've experienced as the downsides or cons of using this method.

Ease of use: Talk about how easy -- or not -- it's been for you and/or your partner to use, access and afford this method, how it's worked out in your relationships, etc.

Effectiveness: Talk about how well this method has protected you from pregnancy, and if it ever has failed, note that, including any explanation of how or why, if you know or suspect how or why.

Feel free to also add any extra notes, hints or tips!

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Pros: the absence of my period (i actually liked that it was gone, after a couple months of being on it..), my body was reacting very well to it (after being on the pill prior to it and not everybody gets a positive reaction to this method), affordable (just a tad bit more expensive than the pill, but i was willing to try out this and pay the difference so it wasn't a problem for me), sex drive shot up a bit after being on the pill, no more pregnancy scares (that happened the last few months of being on the pill on and off)
Cons: well there are a few side effects to this method, but I didn't really experience much. Only the absence of my period, and some weight gain. I believe you experience more side effects if you have been on it for more than two years.

Ease of use: it was very easy and reliable for me and my partner. It was inserted in my left arm every 12 weeks (or three months). I liked how it took one shot and you were protected for this window of time and that it was effective right away if you got the shot the first time during your period week. My partner and I were thrilled to be on this method. It was probably the best birth control method I used and was very comfortable with it. The shot had a very positive effect on me and my partner sexually.

Effectiveness: The shot was very effective at protecting me from getting pregnant. I have no pregnancies to report. I was on this for just a little over two years. The only reason that I made a withdrawn from this method was that my gyno had advised me that FDA was finding more red flags with this method and was now strictly allowing this be in use if customers can not use any other form of birth control for sexual use at all and of course if you have had kids. So since I was withdrawn from that method, I returned to the Pill which I was on before the shot. It was probably a good timing anyway, I would have probably experienced more cons with the shot had I been on it longer but I don't regret that I had the option to use the shot with the window of time that I had with it. It was nice to experience something else other than the Pill and of course the common use of condoms.


Posts: 369 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I was on Depo for 2 years and started it cause I have a very hard time taking my pill at the same time every day/remembering it.
The first year and a half was great. (or so I thought) No period I didn't have any side effects... that I knew of.

I was extremly moody.. my sex drive was none exsistant. When I did have sex I was extremly dry and it hurt a lot.
The last 6 months got worse. Way worse.
I became emotionally unstable. Crying hysterically for no reason at all... starting completely out of the blue.
My mood swings were drastic and uncontrollable.
I gained 30 pounds in a matter of weeks.
My sex drive was completely gone.

Took me 4 months to get my period back.. which came back black as tar and lasted for 2 weeks. I would then get it every 2 weeks until I started the patch.
My mood swings eventually got better, I stopped crying. My sex drive has come back... and am no longer dry during sex.

Depo was a nightmare. I have 5 friends who have had identical symptoms as I did.
There are warnings out to doctors to be very careful when prescribing it.

My suggestion to EVERYONE. Stay far far away from Depo. There are SO many alternatives to the pill now a days. There is no need for this damaging drug!

Posts: 3 | From: Ontario Canada | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I've been on Depo for almost a year, now, and I love it.

Pros: One shot, every three months. I don't have to remember to take a pill every morning, and I can easily keep track of when I last had a shot and when I'm due for another in my journal. Also, no period. I'm someone who gets really bad cramps, and I've been on ever increasing pain killers as a result. The pill wasn't working to alleviate my cramps (I tried 3 different brands), and my body builds up resistances to drugs quite quickly. Depo has really saved my liver, in that regard! Also, I have depression, and birth control can have a negative effect on that. The risk of depression-related side effects are lower with Depo, compared to the combination pill, because Depo just has one hormone in it. It's also a real money-saver. I have drug insurance, so Depo costs me 35 cents a shot. Pads and tampons cost a hell of a lot more than that! As a student on a budget, that extra money is really handy.

Cons: I can be a little irritable for the first week or so after getting a shot. This was especially noticeable when I started Depo, but isn't, anymore. The spotting was annoying, too, until I totally stopped bleeding. I might have put on a little weight, but it's not noticeable. Also, my arm will hurt for a few days after getting the shot. Really, I'm having a hard time coming up with cons for this method.

Ease of use: Very easy. One shot, every three months, and it costs me 35 cents under my drug plan. The only trick is remembering when I had my last shot, but thanks to my journal, that's not a big issue, for me.

Effectiveness: Well, I'm not pregnant! I've been sexually active while one Depo, and my partner and I don't use condoms. I really trust it to keep me baby-free. Also, it's completely done away with any of my period-related woes, by my not having a period.

I know the person who posted above me had negative experiences on Depo, but I've had nothing but positives. I think it's different for every woman, and I do highly recommend this method to anyone who wants to stop having a period every month, and/or has a hard time remembering to take a pill every day.

Liberal Feminist Hippie

Posts: 22 | From: Canada | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I used a 1 month shot called mesygine... I dont know where to put my experience so I'll write it here. I don't think its available in the US. I got it cause it was cheaper than the patch which I was using at the time and didn't really like it.

It lowered my sexdrive and made me extremelly dizzy for about a week the first time I got it, the second it was in me and for the following week the world would spin. I've only used it three times since it made me feel a bit dizzy the second and the third time I fainted. I guess it lowers your blood pressure a bit and since I have low bp it just took me over the edge.

It made my period come every 2 weeks more or less but it was more or less like spotting and brown. It was like I got a strong period and then 2 weeks later a weaker one. As for cramps and that, there are very few. But the fainting and dizziness did it for me and my boyfriend. He doesnt want me taking it any more

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Pros:I love Depo because there is nothing to remember to have to take or do everyday, just every three months. And even then if you forget, you have a few days to remember and you are OK. Plus, you don't get your period (if anything, a little spotting right before you are due for your shot)which is the whole reason I went on the shot in the first place. I have diabetes and when I got my period, it would cause my blood sugars to go so high I would have to go to the hospital so they decided to try Depo and it worked so I have been on it for 11 years now with really no complaints.
Cons: low sex drive, your butt hurting after you get the shot...can't really think of anything
Ease of Use:it isn't that doctor's nurse calls me, I go in, she gives me a shot in my butt and we call it a day and I go back and do it again in 3 months.
Effectiveness: it must be pretty effective since I don't have any kids yet


Posts: 1 | From: Kenosha, WI | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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pro : So convient. Made sex alot better (no condom hassle)

Cons: moody, lowered sex drive (extremly during the first year), second year, dry during sex (when not on period), almost non stop period, gained 20 pounds in a matter of weeks (although i mantained a normal diet, and exercise daily)

Ease: The shot was a breeze, easy and convenient.

Effec. : I am definetly not pregnant

I would HIGHLY recomend not taking this shot. my experiance was terrible. I have had my period for A MONTH AND A HALF right now. I feel depressed, i look terrible havig gained all this weight.
I want off NOW...

Posts: 6 | From: NY | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Pros: There is really no thinking involved. You go to the doctor once every three months and your good. It's nice to not have to worry about taking a pill every day, or forgetting to take it.

Cons: I loved depo for the first year I was on it then all of the sudden my body started hating it. I gained 40lbs in about a month and a half. Then I started getting so emotional. I would cry at anything, even things that weren't sad. I lost my period after the first couple of doses. At first it was nice, but I've been off of depo for over two years and I still don't have a regular period.

Ease: Crazy easy. I'm not sure about how expensive it was because my mom paid for it.

Effectiveness: It worked very well. I never got pregnant.

To be really honest I tell everyone I know to go on any birth control but depo. In my experience and speaking with many friends this method has the some of the worst side effects. I would definately say don't take it.

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I've been on and off and back on the shot for the past 4 years. I never had any side effects except acne and the heavy brown/black irregular periods when I wasnt on the shot. I went back on a year ago to stop the brown bleeding and since then i've notice all the side affects, mood swings, depression, hair loss, sore body, nasuea, idegestion, everything except bleeding and weight gain. I'm not going on the shot again when I do get my period it will probably be horrible and take at least a year for my cycles to be normal again.

My fiance and I have now decided we want to have a baby soon and I'm leaving it up to nature to see how long it takes, I have a feeling it wont happen soon though... the horror stories I've read about women who cant get pregnant at all are everywhere. Even more horror stories of side affect that happen to women after the first or second year of taking it... it might seem dandy at first... but the side affects will come!

All you women who claim to love this drug... be aware that you are stopping your body from doing a NATURAL FUNCTION and it's going to affect your body! If you want to have kids one day I would suggest NOT taking this drug.

Posts: 1 | From: Santa Barbara CA | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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(MandyMoon, I just want to clear something up here- the shot does not cause infertility. While it can take a long time- 6 to 12 months- for your cycles to return to normal and to be able to become pregnant, this is not by any means a long-term issue.)


Posts: 2332 | From: Canada | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lacey Gracey
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Pros: No period.

Cons: For me, the depo shot has been nothing but a nightmare. Iíll be on the shot for 6 months at the end of the month. I have no intention on getting my third injection. In the first three months, I didnít notice the side effects so bad. Towards the end I was getting headaches but I figured that was normal: Iíve been having headaches every day from 13 to approximately 17. Iím on medication to make them less frequent. I also noticed that sex was a little uncomfortable. The nurse told me to try lubricants. After my second shot I became incredibly depressed. The uncomfortable sex turned into extremely painful sex even with lubricant. When I tried to have intercourse with my boyfriend, I bled worse than when I lost my virginity. I noticed my hair falling out, but I figured it was stress related. I started to look up personal stories of the depo shot and I found many that talked about hair loss. I donít know if mineís related. Itís not enough hair to be alarmed, though. I didnít notice it until I decided to reflect on the past few months but I have been really moody. I cry randomly and for hours. I get annoyed really easily. And feel the need to lash out. It has been an emotional roller coaster. At first I lost some weight but Iím sure Iíve gained it all back and some. Itís probably no more than about 12 pounds. I donít necessarily blame the shot for my weight gain but I definitely hold it accountable for the painful sex and the excruciating and constant headaches. Iíve been nothing but miserable for the past 3 months.

Ease of use: Yes it is easy, but itís not worth it.

Effectiveness: Well, Iím not pregnant. So it is working. I switched from Loestrin ((which I used successfully for a year)) to Depo Provera because I was getting frequent urinary tract infections and wanted protection while I was on antibiotics. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I researched side effects but NEVER came across the ones that plague me. Iím very annoyed that I wasnít adequately informed of the side effects. When I complained of painful sex at my second appointment why didnít the nurse suggest not using it anymore? Itís very annoying and I believe that women considering using these kinds of long-term drugs should have the risks explained more thoroughly.

Posts: 1 | From: Here | Registered: Jan 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I'd like to say about medic_meg's concerns: while it's good to know about the range of side effects for Depo, lots of people find it fine, so I think a blanket 'stay away!' isn't really appropriate. As long as someone is aware of all the possible outcomes, it's their choice to make. And ultimately each woman's body will react differently to any hormone-based contraceptive, so you can't know how someone else will react to Depo. </rambling>

Pros: You only have to remember it every 3 months! I loved this. It's great not to have to think about it all the time.

It doesn't interfere with sex. (Not directly, anyway.)

Its effectiveness rate is pretty good.

I believe I'm right in saying that no medications interact with Depo, meaning that nothing decreases its effectiveness. Another thing less to worry about.

Also having an upset stomach doesn't affect it.
It usually makes periods light to non-existant, which can be a pro depending on how you look at it.

It's excellent for people who are more anxious about effectiveness, as it's pretty much foolproof.

I haven't noticed much in the way of side effects, apart from irregular bleeding. I have actually lost quite a bit of weight while on Depo (not in an unhealthy way; I was intending to as part of a healthier lifestyle...)

Where I am, Depo is free, so that's a definite plus for me, though I realise I'm lucky.

I didn't get the lowered sex drive issues people have mentioned; on the contrary, once I didn't have to worry so much about contraception (I switched from the pill) my sex drive was much improved.

Cons: Once it's in your body, you can't take it out, so any side effects you have can last a while.

It is a fair old whack of hormone all in one go, and there is a range of side effects; I believe weight gain is fairly common on Depo.

For me, Depo didn't stop periods altogether; I get irregular light spotting, usually for a week or two weeks at some point during the three months. This unpredictability can be irritating.
When I first went on Depo, I didn't bleed initially, then I had a full month of periody bleeding. Which was pretty bleuch. Thankfully, that was a one-off.

I also had extremely minor lactation when I first went on Depo, which was actually barely noticeable, but once I had noticed it, it was worrying until I could get to a doctor for reassurance.

I believe it takes a while after coming off Depo for fertility to return.

One of the things I found with Depo is that healthcare professionals don't seem to know that much about it; I've been told contradictory things by different doctors and nurses about interactions, bone density and weight gain on Depo, which left me quite confused. I may just have been unlucky on this, but Depo hasn't been around for a very long time, so perhaps the knowledge and understanding of it isn't widespread.

The bone density thing is potentially a big decision-maker with Depo; again, it's unclear as to whether calcium supplements help or not, but the potential higher risk of osteoporosis with Depo puts lots of people off. For me personally, I've been on Depo for three years now, and I'm looking to come off it because of the bone density issue, especially as I'm vegan and maybe don't have as high a calcium intake as some.

Effectiveness: I did use Depo both on its own and in conjunction with condoms, and I didn't get pregnant, so.

I'd recommend Depo for anyone who likes not to have to constantly think about contraception, or who wants a low-maintenance backup method to condoms etc. You do have to be able to accept, though, that initially you might get side effects which may well fade with time, or may not, and Depo, once you've had a shot, is with you for 3 months.

Posts: 161 | From: europe | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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i was on depo for two years the first shot i got i bled for a month straight (not trying to scare you) but after that first month i didnt get another period again but gained like 45 pounds over the years i didnt like this side effect but loved the no periods after talking to my gyno we decided i should switch to ortho-cyclen i was hesitant because i didnt kno how my periods would be but i love it now i still sometimes wonder what if i was still on depo..... p.s i lost the 20 pounds!!!


Posts: 6 | From: minnesota | Registered: Mar 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
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Pros: I get no period on this, or maybe some very light spotting (usually at the end of my 3 month cycle). I love that. Also, I hardly ever have to think about birth control. I set up each appointment when I am leaving from getting a shot, and I just put it in my phone to remind me the night before. Also, I've had problems with estrogen-based BC increasing my depression, and this didn't do that at all. It also lessens my cramps (I still feel a monthly cycle even though I don't bleed).
Cons: I think it might give me a little dryness in my vagina, but the pill has done that to me also. With no b/c I use condoms, though, so I need lube no matter what. Another con is my insurance doesn't count it as a "drug" for some reason so it gets applied to my deductible, which sucks. I pay $400 a year for the shot.
Ease of Use: Very easy. Tiny needle, hardly feel anything (not like a flu shot). Takes 5 mins, every 3 months.
Effectiveness: Very effective. I've been using it for 10 years (with a few breaks with lack of money/insurance) and I have never been pregnant.

I always hear all these horror stories about it, thought I'd leave my great experience with it. I haven't gained any weight (except when I stopped exercising, which starting up again promptly fixed). The worst part for me is really the cost because my insurance (when I even have insurance...) doesn't cover it as a medication. (dumb!)

Posts: 876 | From: Seattle | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Pros: I LOVED the shot. Before it, I had very regular periods which were miserable. Heavy bleeding, cramps, the works. I spotted the first month I believe. Ive been on the shot since I was 15. I'm ninteen now and I never got my period after that. [Smile]
Its so easy to remember. I didn't want to go on the pill because I can barely remember to take my other pills as is.

Cons: The only problem I had with this is weight gain. And it didn't actually make me gain weight, it just makes it harder to take off. Before the shot, i was about 150 pounds.If i piggeg out one week and put on say, 5 pounds, I'd just do some exercise and lose it right away. After the shot, none of that weight came off. It stayed permanetly. I'm about 175 now. I was on weightwatchers and got down to 160 on the LOWEST points values.

Ease of use: Extremely easy. Go in and get a shot, go out. I never had a decrease in libido, and it did not change anything in having sex with my partner.

Effectiveness: I've been having sex on the shot for about four years without a condom. Never got pregnant.

Couple of extra tips: Don't let a nurse give you the shot in your arm. Its less painful and just as effective in your lower back/bottom area.
The only reason I'm going off it is because I wasn't skinny to begin with, and I really want to lose the weight. I just switched to the Nuva Ring. If it wasn't for that, I'd stay on the shot forever!

Posts: 1 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: May 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Pros: Less migraines (I switched from Trinessa, which is a combination pill and gave me migraines - now I'm back on it), more energy, less anxiety

Cons: Period for two and a half months of the three I was on the shot (I only had one because I didn't want the bleeding to continue!), extreme cravings for food at a late time (1 in the morning or when I was trying to sleep, whichever came first), an increase in acid reflux (probably because of the cravings for food at untimely hours), and I think I started to become anemic after the first two months of continuous bleeding

Ease of use: Relatively easy - one shot and done, didn't have any side effects when I switched (no nausea, mood swings, etc. when switching from pill to shot). However, it impacted my relationship - bleeding for three months (even when I wasn't fully spotting, I'd start and stop for several hours a day!) wasn't very fun, but we got through it.

Effectiveness: Worked with no problems in terms of pregnancy prevention.

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I haven't been on as long as other people (about eight months), but so far I've had nothing but good experiences

Pros: Easy to use; one shot every three months is the main reason I chose to use it. No periods is amazing; I thankfully don't have bad periods but they were annoying and often lasted a full week which was annoying for myself and my partner. Now, I don't get any kind of bleeding or spotting.

Cons: My *** hurts after getting the shot for a few days. I haven't experienced any loss of sex drive (though I know I have a high one so it's possible I just haven't noticed). I also haven't noticed the vaginal dryness some people experience but it's possible that's just because I haven't been on it long enough.

Ease of use: I'm not lucky enough to get it for less than $50, which I guess is a regional/insurance thing. It's easy to use, obviously, and I feel secure using it. We use a backup method, withdrawal, as well, so I'm confident in its effectiveness. The shot hasn't really had any effect on our relationship mainly because it's not something we both have to worry about doing or dealing with each and every time we have sex.

Effectiveness: No pregnancies so it's doing its job. As I said, we also use the withdrawal method to help ensure there's no pregnancy.

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Depo was a very strange experience for me. Me and my monogomus partner wanted to have barrier free sex. When I started, I was reassured there weren't any side effects, and at first there weren't. I had some light spotting during that month, but after that I didn't have a single period or spotting for two years. During those two years I was moody and would cry for no reason, I gained a lot of weight and was getting internal cramping without the bleeding. This went on for awhile, being chalked up to teenage horomones, and my doctor encouraged me to continue depo. After about a year I started having problems sleeping, by a year and a half I would only get a couple hours of sleep a night, so I did my own research and put two and two together. My last shot was in Oct. 2013 and I still haven't had a proper period, lost that weight or gotten it totally out of my system. I am starting to sleep better and feel less moody though. I'm thinking of switching to non-hormonal birth control

Pros: Super easy to use, goof free, and no periods
Cons:weight gain, insomnia, mood swings, cramping
Ease of use: Ridiculously easy, one clinic visit every 3 months and it cost about 5$ a month
Effectiveness: Two years of regular barrier free sex and my baby oven is safely vacated

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