If you are one of those women who prefer to not have to think about a pill everyday for birth control or the regular use of patches or other types of contraceptives, you may favour a more long term contraceptive, like the birth control shot - depo provera. While extremely effective, depo provera does come with its own pros and cons. Therefore, make sure you are well informed before trying this contraception method.
What is Depo-Provera?
Depo-provera, also known as DMPA, is a hormonal injection of progestrone that is given every 11 to 13 weeks and is a reversible method of birth control. This hormonal dose does not contain any estrogen, thereby making it safe for breastfeeding mothers too. This progestin-injection is similar to the hormone progestrone naturally created in your body to regulate the menstrual cycle.
How Does it Work?
Like other hormonal methods of birth control, the depo provera birth control works in three ways:
- It prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg each month.
- It thickens the mucous of the cervix so that sperm cannot travel easily through the vagina.
- It affects the uterine lining, which is believed to make implantation of a fertilised egg difficult.
One of the more convenient facets of using depo provera as compared to other contraceptives is that you only four injections about every three months to prevent pregnancy for a whole year.
Use of Depo Provera
Your health care provider will be the best judge to know whether you are suited for using this type of birth control. In general, some conditions that may require you to opt for other contraceptive methods are:
- If you have unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Liver diseases
- You are planning pregnancy or you have suspected pregnancy
- Gall bladder disease
- Concerned about weight gain
- History of depression
- Allergic to its use
- History of blood clots
- Cancer of the breast or other organs
- Fear of injections
Long-term use of depo provera is usually not recommended and especially not for young women whose bones are still in the developmental stage, as use of depo provera has been linked to a loss of bone mass.
A typical depo provera schedule consists of one dose four times a year. Your doctor will first make all the necessary physical examinations and then give you the first intramuscular injection during the first seven days of your period. One dose of this contraceptive injection will be enough to prevent pregnancy for approximately 12 weeks.