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The Shot

The shot is just what it sounds like — a shot that keeps you from getting pregnant. Once you get it, your birth control is covered for three full months. There’s nothing else you have to do. Some people call the shot “Depo,” short for Depo-Provera. (Pronounced like Johnny Depp-oh.) The shot contains progestin, a hormone that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens your cervical mucous, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Some women say they don't want the shot because they're afraid of needles.

Details

Nothing to worry about for three months
If you're the kind of person who would have trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the shot might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something once every three months.

Total privacy
No one can tell when you're on Depo. There's no tell-tale packaging, and nothing you need to do before you have sex.

Yes, there are needles involved
If you're really that scared of needles, then Depo is not for you. Just think it's a single shot and you're done for three months. Weigh the options.

It's a love/hate thing
Depo is one of those methods that some women LOVE and some women HATE.

Smokers older than 35, beware
For those older than 35 years old, smoking while using the shot increases the risk of certain side effects. If you’re younger than that, why not quit smoking now and save yourself the trouble in the future? If you need help quitting, visit www.ndhealth.gov/ndquits

The pregnancy question
It is possible to get pregnant as soon as 12 weeks following the last injection, though for some women it can take around nine months for fertility to return. The bottom line? Don't take any chances. If you're not ready for a baby, protect yourself with another method and right away.

Side Effects

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every method. And everyone's different, so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.

The Positive
Positive “side effects”? You bet.

  • Easy to use
  • You don’t have to stop and do anything before sex.
  • You don't have to worry about remembering to take it every day
  • Might give you shorter, lighter periods, or no periods at all
  • Your birth control is taken care of for three months at a time
  • Can be used by women who can't take estrogen
  • It's very effective at preventing pregnancy if you get the shots on time

The Negative
Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they're not a problem. Remember, you're introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.

The most common complaints: Irregular bleeding, especially for the first six to 12 months (This could mean longer, heavier periods, or spotting in between periods.)

  • Change in appetite or weight gain (It's common for some women to gain around five pounds in the first year, while other women gain nothing.)

Less common side effects:

  • Depression
  • Hair loss or more hair on your face or body
  • Nervousness or dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sore breasts

There's no way to stop the side effects of Depo. It's not like you can go back in time and not get the shot. If you still feel uncomfortable after the course of at least two shots in a row, switch methods and stay protected. You're worth it.

*For a very small number of women, there are risks of serious side effects.

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