Health & Fitness

How Safe and Effective are Contraceptive Shots?

Contraceptive shots is the layman’s term for Depo-Provera. It is a one time contraceptive injection taken in a 12 week interval or 3 months. It contains the progestogen hormone. It is effective, and convenient, if you do not want to take the daily birth control pills. If you are reading this article, then chances are you are concerned about the effectiveness of the contraceptive shots. Let’s take a look.

How effective is it?

Statistics and tests show that the contraceptive shots are 99% effective. It shows that there is a very small margin of error, and it works between 12 and 14 weeks. If you plan to take one consistently, you need to adhere to the timeline for effectiveness.


Usually the contraceptive shot is administered via an injection on your bottoms or arm. There’s no other way to do it, and if you can’t take needles, then you can look into other contraceptive options. The process should follow injection safety protocols.

How does it work?

The contraceptive shot contains the progestogen hormone that limits the monthly egg release from the ovaries. It also works the other way round by reducing the probability of sperm reaching the eggs by thickening the cervix fluid. The cervix is the womb or uterus opening. The contraceptive shot effectiveness is not realized until after about 7 days. You should note this if you plan to get your contraceptive shot.

Where can you get one?

You can consult and receive a contraceptive shot from Most healthcare facilities should have the contraceptive shot, but you need a specialized one, to give you a good analysis on the options and also advise you on your reproductive health.

How much does it cost?

The cost of the contraceptive shot varies because of various reasons. They include whether you qualify for special subsidy programs, your health insurance plan and your location. Usually, there is a short exam before your first shot which shouldn’t take long. You may be charged depending on the health facility you visit. The average cost of a contraceptive shot is about $250. The follow up shots are less costly at about $150.

Majority of insurance plans will cover all the costs. Through the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers should cover all issues related to birth control. Therefore, you can expect to get the contraceptive shot for free. There are many health programs related to birth control. They can also help you secure one. Apply for one near you.

What are its advantages?

The main advantage about the contraceptive shot is that you only need to take it about every 90 days or 12 weeks, yet you achieve high effectiveness just like other daily medications. Therefore, if you are one to forget taking your meds or have a busy life schedule, then a contraceptive shot is your best bet.

Statistics show that the shot works better than contraceptive pills. It is also a good option, if your body cannot handle estrogen, because it uses pregestin instead. You do not need any medication to discontinue the contraceptive shots, as you only need to stop taking the injection.

If you are breastfeeding, you do not have to worry about its side effects, as it will work just fine. It can help reduce period pain, and does not cause vaginal bleeding which can be a contraceptive side effect.

What are the disadvantages

  • Renewal after three months- you have to get a contraceptive shot every three months or twelve weeks after the initial ones. You can always take a supply home or visit your doctor. The key issue is that it will only work if you follow the guidelines and take it on time. If you have difficulty tracking, use a birth control application. They are available for free on app stores. You can set a reminder to keep you on your toes.
  • Difficulty getting pregnant- when you stop the contraceptive shot, getting pregnant is not instant. You may have to wait up to 10 months or 15 weeks for it to disappear in your body. It does not mean that you can delay taking a follow-up shot because some people can get pregnant immediately.
  • Disruption to the periods’ cycle- the contraceptive shot can interfere with your period’s cycle. It can remain the same for some people. However, it is different for others. Brace yourself for a potential change of your periods’ cycle when you start using the contraceptive shot, and also when you stop it.

How about the side effects?

The contraceptive side effects are negligible. Therefore, you do not have to worry about it affecting your overall health. Some of the side effects include; mood changes, tender or sore breasts, skin changes, bloating, headaches, decrease in bone density, and weight gain. They usually fade away within a short time, as they are merely bodily reactions to the new injected hormones.

What to do if you are late

You’ll only be safe if you take your follow up shot 10-15 weeks after the initial one. Otherwise, you will not be protected from getting pregnant. After 15 weeks, consider alternative birth control methods such as condoms to stay safe. You can then plan to get your contraceptive shot after this, and stick to the instructions.

The contraceptive shot only works under the guidelines. Also, consider taking a pregnancy test before taking a follow up shot. It is a simple process which will help you avoid complications in case of an emergency. Remember to always take the short within the timeline you are given by your doctor to stay safe.

Final thoughts

Contraceptive shots are highly effective, and it is a method you should definitely consider. However there are some limiting health factors, such as if you have or had health conditions including heart attack, heart disease, liver disease or breast cancer. Also, if you are planning to get pregnant soon, then you should avoid any contraceptive medications. When on the shot, you might be late to take a follow-up. You should not take risks, and you need to consider abstaining or using temporary solutions such as condoms, until you get another shot.

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