Considering Depo-Provera as Birth Control

6 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Safe Sex

Depo-Provera, also known as “the Shot,” provides a very reliable version of birth control because it uses hormones to affect a woman’s sexual and reproductive organs. Depo-Provera is similar to the Pill, except that it is delivered via a shot once every 12 weeks — a great alternative for women who are worried about forgetting to take the Pill every day. Like the Pill, Depo-Provera does not protect against STDs.

Advantages of Depo-Provera

Avoiding the potential scare of a missed Pill is one of Depo-Provera’s greatest advantages. Instead of taking a daily pill or having a rod inserted into your arm, you get a shot every 12 weeks, which is given under the skin instead of into the muscle. Aside from that, its side effects (both good and bad) are very similar to the Pill:

  • Prevention of unintended pregnancy

  • More regular periods

  • Less menstrual flow

  • Less menstrual cramping

  • Less iron deficiency anemia

  • Fewer ectopic pregnancies (pregnancies that occur outside the uterus)

  • Less pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Less acne

  • Less premenstrual tension

  • Less rheumatoid arthritis

  • Less ovarian cyst formation

  • Protection against endometrial and ovarian cancer, two of the most common types of cancer in women

Disadvantages of Depo-Provera

Certainly, a woman who doesn’t like injections won’t choose this product. And although its side effects are the same as the Pill’s, if you don’t like them, you can’t simply stop taking Depo-Provera (like you can the Pill). Instead, you must wait until the full 12 weeks have passed for the effects of the shot to go away. That also holds true if you want to get pregnant, though most people aren’t in such a rush to have a baby that they can’t wait such a short time.

The costs of the injection range from $30 to $75. But, again, a clinic may charge less.

Depo-Provera offers absolutely no protection against AIDS or any other sexually transmitted disease, and you must use the shot in conjunction with a condom if any risk exists that you may catch a disease from your partner.

Some of you may have heard that the birth control shot causes a loss in bone density. In fact, Depo-Provera was reformulated so it now contains less hormones and bone density loss is no longer a risk.

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