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Real Women Discuss Their Experiences with Depo Provera

Depo Provera Side Effects


Updated June 25, 2014

Real Women Discuss Their Experiences with Depo Provera


Photo Reprinted With Permission from E. Scott
Do you use Depo Provera to prevent an unplanned pregnancy? Perhaps you are considering whether to switch your current birth control method to the Depo Shot, or maybe your doctor has recommended Depo Provera to help lower your discomfort from endometriosis-related pain. Depo Provera is a reversible, prescription method of birth control. Also known as the Depo Shot or the birth control shot, each injection slowly releases the synthetic form of progesterone medroxyprogesterone acetate and protects against pregnancy for a period of 11 to 14 weeks.

There are two versions - Depo Provera or the newer Depo-subQ Provera 104 -- with the exception of a few differences, both injections work the same way and provide the same level of pregnancy protection. Generally speaking, you would need to get a Depo injection about 4 times a year.

If you are considering using Depo Provera, this is your chance to find out about other women's feelings about this birth control method. These excerpts are from real women, like you, who have shared their experiences with Depo use in forums or comment boxes on this site.

After reading what other women had to say, you can even share your own Depo story: What is Your Experience with the Depo Shot?

Irregular Spotting or Breakthrough Bleeding on Depo:

"I took my first Depo shot back in April. I was fine for the first two weeks but as soon as I had sex, my period came. I've been spotting since." -- K

"I'm 16 and received my first Depo shot in February 2009. At first, it was great. After a few weeks, I got an irregular period, and after a few days of that, just began to spot (a brownish/red discharge since then). I'm supposed to go in to my doctor within the next week or two to get my second shot but I don't think I am." -- Kristin

"I have been on Depo for a year now. I am still having some mild spotting problems but not too bad and only for a few days at a time.¨ -- Sim

These experiences are not uncommon, and I often receive comments and questions like these wanting to know if spotting and lightly bleeding is normal after receiving a Depo injection. Your body will likely go through changes as it adjusts to the progestin provided by Depo Provera. Irregular bleeding (spotting) and/or prolonged bleeding (like a continuous period) is actually a completely normal side effect when a woman begins to use Depo Provera. In fact, many women stop using the Depo shot during the first year of use due to irregular bleeding (spotting) and/or prolonged bleeding. This side effect is especially common during the first 3 months of use. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how you will react to Depo Provera - whether or not you will have spotting, when it will stop, or if you end up not having period at all.

Depo and Weight Gain:

"Depo is okay. I like that I don't have to take pills everyday, but I have definately put on some weight. I also spotted for like the first two weeks, but that was it. I don't like the weigh gain, so I am thinking about switching to something else." -- Annie

"I've been on Depo for 5 months. My doctor recommended it because I can't take combination birth control pills. My first two Depo injections were fine - no bleeding at all! About two weeks ago, I spotted (lightly) for like 3 days, then nothing. So far, I am happy. I heard that Depo Provera can make you gain weight - thankfully, I haven't put on any extra pounds (I actually lost a few, but I don't think the Depo had anything to do with that). I say, give it a try - glad I did!" -- Rebekka

When taken on time, the Depo shot is 99.7% effective; however, weight gain is frequently cited by women as a reason for discontinuing Depo Provera use. During the first year of use, most Depo users experience an average weight gain of 3.5 to 5 pounds. That being said, research has shown mixed findings as to whether this method of birth control actually contributes to weight gain. It does seem, however, that body weight and fat appear to increase with the use of DMPA, but this side effect should be balanced against Depo Provera's low failure rate and ease of use. Research has also shown that women who used nonhormonal contraception after discontinuing DMPA experienced an adjusted mean weight LOSS of 1.7 kg after 24 months (lost .42 kg in 6 months).

No More Periods on Depo Provera:

"I had been on the Depo shot when I was younger, and it was awesome. I never had a period! Then after having two kids, I decided to get on Depo again. I have been bleeding for 4 months straight (some days are heavy, others light)." -- Megan

"I took my first Depo shot, and now it is time for my second. I have been having normal periods the whole time until this month -- and now, they have stopped." -- Emily

"I just had my third Depo Provera Shot about 3 weeks ago. I had a little bit of spotting (maybe like a week) after the first one. After my second Depo injection, I spotted for 3 days, then nothing. Since then, I have had no issues and no period. For me, this has been awesome. I don't have to remember taking pills every day and am totally protected against making babies. I completely recommend this method!" -- Belinda

"I've been on and off Depo for 3 years. Having my son at the age of 15, I figured it was the best prevention method. The first two years I was on Depo, I hardly ever had a period. I was so happy!" -- So Classy

Pfizer (Depo's manufacturer) indicates that in clinical studies, 39% of women usually find that their periods completely stop by the end of month 6 of use. After nine months of using Depo Provera or Depo-subQ Provera 104, about half of women's periods have either almost stopped or have completely stopped. Finally, for the remaining women, 57% report that their periods have stopped by the end of a whole year of use.

Next Page: Other Contraceptive Injections, Nonstop Bleeding on Depo, Depo and Bone Mineral Density and Non-Contraceptive Advantages of Depo

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