Depo-provera (Injection)

Depo-Provera works similarly to the Pill. It’s an injection of a hormone called progestin that you receive once every three months (when you get your injection, you’ll make an appointment for your next one). Depo is a good choice if you don’t have a lot of routine in your life or if you’re just not a very organized or structured person (it can be easy to forget to take the Pill every day). You get the injection at a health care provider’s office or clinic.

How to use it

The first injection is given while you’re on your period and it starts preventing pregnancy in 24 hours. In 11 to 13 weeks you’ll have your next injection.

How it works

The hormones in the Depo shot prevent pregnancy by doing three things: 1) making cervical mucus thicker to stop sperm from entering the uterus, 2) stopping the ovaries from producing eggs (ovulation), and 3) thinning the wall of the uterus so that a fertilized egg won’t be able to implant.

Effectiveness

99% effective with proper use. There’s less chance to have an unplanned pregnancy than with the Pill or the Patch.

Advantages

You only have to get four injections a year, so you only have to think about contraception four times a year. Also, your period will be very light, or it may stop completely.

Disadvantages

Depo doesn’t protect against HIV or STIs. It can lead to bone density loss, which can result in early osteoporosis (weakening of your bones). If you’re a teenager, this is important because your bones are still developing, but you can offset this by taking calcium and vitamin D pills or increasing your intake of dairy products. Possible side effects include irregular spotting and vaginal bleeding, weight gain, headaches, hair growth or hair loss, and changes in mood. Side effects can continue for three months following the first injection. Although Depo is reversible, it usually takes up to six months after stopping injections to have a period, and can take up to two years. Some people will start ovulating again before their period returns, so it means you could get pregnant after stopping Depo (even if it’s before your periods start up again).

Cost and coverage

The Depo shot is covered by most private health insurance plans, but you should know that if you use your parent’s drug plan, they may be able to see that information. Depo is also covered by:

  • EIA/social assistance
  • FNIHB (First Nations status) – You can call 204-983-8886 to make sure no one else can see your prescriptions.
  • Manitoba Pharmacare – If you have a Manitoba Health card and have no other coverage, there’s a good chance you can apply for Pharmacare to cover a good portion of your drug costs. Click here for more information.

If you don’t have any coverage, you may be able to get Depo for free from your health care provider’s office or clinic, or you can call Women’s Health Clinic (204-947-1517) for information on their free/low-cost birth control program. Otherwise, the cost to just purchase the Depo shot is generally between $33 and $45/shot (equal to about $11-$14/month) in Winnipeg.*

* This information is up-to-date as of 2014.