There is no shortage of choices when it comes to birth control options. Those who want a long-lasting, hands-off method may choose to go with an IUD, while other people may opt for the birth control pill because of its ease of use.

For those looking for a relatively low maintenance method of birth controlDepo Provera (also known as Depo Shot) may be a good option. Depo Shot is not only highly effective, but it can also help decrease cramping and pain during menstrual periods.

Despite Depo Shot’s effectiveness, there have been many questions surrounding the use of the birth control shot and potential weight gain.

What is Depo-Provera?

Depo Shot, is a highly effective contraceptive injection that uses progestin to prevent pregnancy. When delivered according to the recommended 12-week dosing schedule, Depo Shot is 94% effective. When used as directed, Depo Provera has many benefits that make it an attractive choice for someone looking into birth control options.

Highly Effective

As with any contraceptive method, the level of effectiveness of Depo Shot may vary based on the user’s adherence to their injection schedule. With perfect use, Depo Shot is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. External factors, including forgetting to get the shot on time, bring the effectiveness of this method of contraception down to 94%.

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Low-Maintenance

The low level of maintenance required for Depo Shot makes it an excellent choice for those who lead busy lifestyles, or those who simply prefer a “hands-off” birth control option.

When received on schedule, Depo Shot is administered every three months, or four times a year. Other birth control methods, like the pill, must be taken daily to be effective. NuvaRing, while still much lower in maintenance than the birth control pill, still requires the user to change the ring every few weeks, and check to make sure the ring is still in place.

Can Be Done at Home With Proper Training

While Depo Shot is normally administered in the office of your doctor or medical professional, you may be able to inject the shot on your own at home with proper training. Doing it at home is a huge benefit, as you will not need to make an appointment to see your doctor.

Those with busy schedules may not be able to find a suitable time to make an appointment, which may then result in a missed dose. Giving yourself the shot at home helps eliminate that obstacle.

Also read: A Simple Guide to Using the Birth Control Patch?

Easier Periods

When received consistently and on schedule, users of Depo Shot can expect lighter and less painful periods. When used for over 12 months, menstrual periods may stop altogether, which is a positive outcome for many women.

Ability to Conceive Returns When Depo Shot is Stopped

Receiving a Depo Shot doesn’t change the user’s ability to conceive. When Depo Shot is stopped, the ability to become pregnant returns. It may, however, take 9-10 months before users of Depo Shot can become pregnant after stopping it.

If you are looking into birth control options, but wish to get pregnant sometime soon, speak to your doctor or medical professional, as Depo Shot may not be the best option for you at this time. To learn more, you can read how Depo Provera works, its pros and cons.

Progestin-only Birth Control Option

Depo Shot is a progestin-only birth control option. A progestin-only birth control option is useful for those who cannot use a contraceptive that contains estrogen. Women who may benefit from an estrogen-free birth control option include:

  • women who are sensitive to synthetic estrogen
  • women who have high blood pressure
  • women who smoke and are over the age of 35
  • women who are sensitive to synthetic estrogen

A progestin-only birth control option is also beneficial for women who are breastfeeding. Progestin will not hurt the baby, nor will it affect the woman’s ability to produce milk.

Depo-Provera and Weight Gain

Weight gain has been reported across many different contraceptive methods, including birth control pills, IUDs, the patch, etc. In most cases, studies have shown that there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in weight gain between women who do use some method of hormonal birth control versus women who don’t.

A study done several years ago showed a correlation between Depo Shot and weight gain. In this study, 25% of the women receiving the Depo Shot gained weight within the first six months of starting this method of contraception. When compared with their starting weight, these women gained 5% (or more) of their body weight in these six months.

It was predicted that the women who gained weight within the first six months of the study would likely continue gaining weight if they continued with their scheduled birth control shots. Seventy five percent, or the majority of women in this study, didn’t report weight gain.

Why Does the Depo Shot Cause Weight Gain?

Research has shown that the women who gained weight within the first six months of starting Depo Shot had three risk factors:

  • They had a body mass index under 30
  • They had children before starting Depo Shot
  • They reported an increase in their appetite six months after starting Depo Shot

The women who gained weight experienced an overall increase in their body fat mass. This is in contrast to the birth control pill, where an increase in weight can often be attributed to water retention.

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What To Do In Case of Weight Gain

In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet and managing stress, users of Depo Shot should monitor any changes in their bodies.

Women with the risk factors mentioned above, including having children before starting Depo Shot with a body mass index under 30, should be closely followed by their doctor or healthcare professional.

Learn more about how Depo Provera Works

A perfect marker for a touchpoint is 12 weeks after the first Depo Shot was received, which is around the time when the next dose is to be administered. This timing allows the user to take note of any changes to her weight, body and appetite. If signs of weight gain or appetite changes are apparent, alternate birth control options can be explored.

Studies have shown that women who switched to a non-hormonal method of birth control after stopping Depo Shot were able to lose some of the weight gained.

Deciding on which method of birth control to use is a personal choice. Some women value convenience and ease of use, while others look at other factors, including potential weight gain. As indicated, 75% of the women who received Depo Shot did not experience significant weight gain.

Final Thoughts

Depo Shot is an excellent birth control option for those looking for a simple, low maintenance birth control option. If you are interested in using Depo Shot as your chosen method of contraception and are concerned about weight gain, speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about the risk factors and whether another type of birth control would be best for you.

After you have consulted with your doctor or medical professional, be sure to speak to one of our pharmacists here at PocketPills so that we can help you ensure that your birth control needs are taken care of. 

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