Depo-Provera

prevents pregnancy. Depo-Provera is injected every 3 months by a healthcare professional.

Depo-Provera Overview

Reviewed: October 5, 2012
Updated: 

Depo-Provera is a prescription hormone medication used to prevent pregnancy

Depo-Provera is in a class of medications called progestins. It works to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries) and thins the lining of the uterus. 

Depo-Provera is given as a shot and injected into the muscle every 3 months. 

Common side effects include irregular vaginal bleeding, weight gain, and stomach pain. 

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What are you taking Depo-Provera for?

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  • Other
  • Amenorrhea
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia
  • Endometrial Neoplasms
  • Hypoventilation
  • Uterine Hemorrhage

How long have you been taking it?

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  • Less than a week
  • A couple weeks
  • A month or so
  • A few months
  • A year or so
  • Two years or more

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Uses of Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera is a prescription hormone medication used to prevent pregnancy

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Manufacturer

Depo-Provera Drug Class

Depo-Provera is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Depo-Provera

Serious side effects have been reported with Depo-Provera. See "Depo-Provera Precautions" section. 

Common side effects of Depo-Provera include:

  • irregular vaginal bleeding, such as lighter or heavier menstrual bleeding, or continued spotting
  • weight gain. You may experience weight gain while you are using Depo-Provera. About two-thirds of the women who used Depo-Provera in the clinical trials reported a weight gain of about 5 pounds during the first year of use. You may continue to gain weight after the first year. Women who used Depo-Provera for 2 years gained an average of 8 pounds over those 2 years.
  • stomach (abdominal) pain
  • headache
  • weakness
  • tiredness
  • nervousness
  • dizziness

The side effect reported most frequently by women who use Depo-Provera for birth controls is a change in their normal menstrual cycle. During the first year of using Depo-Provera, you might have one or more of the following changes:

  • irregular or unpredictable bleeding or spotting
  • an increase or decrease in menstrual bleeding
  • no bleeding at all. In clinical studies of Depo-Provera, 55% of women reported no menstrual bleeding (amenorrhea) after one year of use and 68% of women reported no menstrual bleeding after two years of use.
  • Missed period. During the time you are using Depo-Provera for birth controls, you may skip a period, or your periods may stop completely. If you have been receiving your shot of Depo-Provera regularly every 3 months, then you are probably not pregnant. However, if you think that you may be pregnant, see your healthcare provider.

Unusually heavy or continuous bleeding is not a usual effect of Depo-Provera and if this happens you should see your healthcare provider right away.

With continued use of Depo-Provera, bleeding usually decreases and many women stop having periods completely. When you stop using Depo-Provera your menstrual period will usually, in time, return to its normal cycle.

These are not all the possible side effects of Depo-Provera. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Depo-Provera Interactions

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • medicine to help you sleep
  • bosentan
  • medicine for seizures
  • griseofulvin
  • an antibiotic
  • medicine for HIV (AIDS)
  • St. John's wort

This is not a complete list of Depo-Provera drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

Depo-Provera Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with Depo-Provera including the following:

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • Effect on the bones: Teenage years are the most important years to gain bone strength. The decrease in calcium in your bones is of most concern if you are a teenager or have the following problems:
    • bone disease
    • an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa)
    • a strong family history of osteoporosis
    • you take a drug that can lower the amount of calcium in your bones (drugs for epilepsy or steroid drugs)
    • you drink a lot of alcohol (more than 2 drinks a day)
    • you smoke

If you need a birth control method for more than 2 years, your healthcare provider may switch you to another birth control method instead of using Depo-Provera. If you continue using Depo-Provera, your healthcare provider may ask you to have a bone test, especially if you have other risks for weak bones.

When Depo-Provera is stopped, your bones may start to regain calcium. However, in a study of teenage girls who used Depo-Provera for more than 2 years, their hip bones did not completely recover by 5 years after they stopped using Depo-Provera. Taking calcium and Vitamin D and exercising daily may lessen the loss of calcium from your bones.

  • possible increased risk of breast cancer. Women who use Depo-Provera may have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer compared to non-users.
  • blood clots in your arms, legs, lungs, and eyes
  • stroke
  • a pregnancy outside of your uterus (ectopic pregnancy). Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency that often requires surgery. Ectopic pregnancy can cause internal bleeding, infertility, and even death.
  • allergic reactions. Severe allergic reactions have been reported in some women using Depo-Provera.
  • loss of vision or other eye problems
  • migraine headaches
  • depression
  • convulsions or seizures
  • liver problems

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • sharp chest pain, coughing up blood, or sudden shortness of breath (indicating a possible clot in the lung)
  • sudden severe headache or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, problems with your eyesight or speech, weakness, or numbness in an arm or leg (indicating a possible stroke)
  • severe pain or swelling in the calf (indicating a possible clot in the leg)
  • sudden blindness, partial or complete (indicating a possible clot in the blood vessels of the eye)
  • unusually heavy vaginal bleeding
  • severe pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area
  • persistent pain, pus, or bleeding at the injection site
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the face, mouth, tongue or neck

Do not take Depo-Provera if you:

  • are allergic to Depo-Provera or any of its ingredients
  • are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
  • have bleeding from your vagina that has not been explained
  • have breast cancer now or in the past, or think you have breast cancer
  • have had a stroke
  • ever had blood clots in your arms, legs or lungs
  • have problems with your liver or liver disease

Depo-Provera Food Interactions

Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Depo-Provera, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

 

Inform MD

Before taking Depo-Provera, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you have:

  • risk factors for weak bones (osteoporosis) such as bone disease, use alcohol or smoke regularly, anorexia nervosa, or a strong family history of osteoporosis
  • irregular or lighter than usual menstrual periods
  • breast cancer now or in the past, or think you have breast cancer
  • a family history of breast cancer
  • an abnormal mammogram (breast X-ray), lumps in your breasts, or bleeding from your nipples
  • kidney problems
  • high blood pressure
  • had a stroke
  • had blood clots in your arms, legs or lungs
  • migraine headaches
  • asthma
  • epilepsy (convulsions or seizures)
  • diabetes
  • depression or a history of depression
  • any other medical conditions

Tell your doctor if are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. In addition, tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. The hormone in Depo-Provera can pass into your breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you take Depo-Provera.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Depo-Provera and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

When you take Depo-Provera every 3 months, your chance of getting pregnant is very low. You could miss a period or have a light period and not be pregnant. If you miss 1 or 2 periods and think you might be pregnant, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. You should not use Depo-Provera if you are pregnant.

Depo-Provera and Lactation

Tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding. 

Although Depo-Provera can be passed to the nursing baby in the breast milk, no harmful effects on babies have been found. Depo-Provera does not stop the breasts from producing milk, so it can be used by nursing mothers. However, to minimize the amount of Depo-Provera that is passed to the baby in the first weeks after birth, you should wait until your baby is 6 weeks old before you start using Depo-Provera for birth control.

Depo-Provera Usage

Depo-Provera is given by your healthcare provider as a shot into your muscle (intramuscular injection). The shot is given in your buttock or upper arm 1 time every 3 months. At the end of the 3 months, you will need to return to your healthcare provider for your next injection in order to continue your protection against pregnancy.

  • To make sure that you are not pregnant before you take Depo-Provera, the first injection should be given only:
    • during the first 5 days of a normal menstrual period, or
    • within the first 5 days after giving birth, if you are not breastfeeding, or
    • at the 6th week after giving birth, if you are feeding your baby only breastmilk.
  • Depo-Provera may be given at other times than those listed above, but you will likely need to have a pregnancy test first to show that you are not pregnant.
  • During treatment with Depo-Provera, you should see your healthcare provider every year for a blood pressure check and other healthcare needs.

What if you want to become pregnant?

Because Depo-Provera is a long-acting birth control method, it takes some time after your last shot for its effect to wear off. Most women who try to get pregnant after using Depo-Provera get pregnant within 18 months after their last shot. The length of time you use Depo-Provera has no effect on how long it takes you to become pregnant after you stop using it.

Depo-Provera Dosage

Depo-Provera is given by your healthcare provider as a shot into your muscle (intramuscular injection). The shot is given in your buttock or upper arm 1 time every 3 months.

Depo-Provera Overdose

Depo-Provera is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention. 

Other Requirements

This medication is stored and given by a healthcare professional. 

Depo-Provera FDA Warning

Warning: Loss of Bone Mineral Density

Women who use Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection may lose significant bone mineral density. Bone loss is greater with increasing duration of use and may not be completely reversible.

It is unknown if use of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection during adolescence or early adulthood, a critical period of bone accretion, will reduce peak bone mass and increase the risk for osteoporotic fracture in later life.

Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection should not be used as a long-term birth control method (i.e., longer than 2 years) unless other birth control methods are considered inadequate