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Unintended pregnancies represent about 45% of all pregnancies in the U.S. today, and about 42% of the unintended pregnancies end in abortion. For whatever reasons women may have for not wanting to get pregnant, the numbers are still alarming. Contraceptives such as Depo Shot have been a means by which to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy.
Birth Control Shot
Aside from pills and other birth control options, an injectable contraceptive has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 25 years after it was first introduced. This birth control shot is called Depo-Provera (DMPA) or Depo Shot, as it is more popularly known. A dose of 150 mg DMPA is injected every 90 days in a health facility, which is believed to provide women with 97-99% effective contraception. This, however, is not recommended for long-term use.
How does the birth control shot work?
Pregnancy does not occur when there is no egg in the fallopian tube. An active ingredient of Depo-Provera is medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) which imitates the endogenic progesterone activity. It initiates anti-estrogenic and antiandrogenic activities in the uterine epithelium that keeps you from getting pregnant. Depo shot thickens the cervical mucus, hindering the sperm from fertilizing the egg. Since Depo shot is injected, typically by a medical professional, it decreases significantly the possibility of user error. If you get the shot within five days of the start of your period or within five days of giving birth, you’re protected immediately. It is administered only once every 90 days, or 13 weeks, for unwanted pregnancy. And with regular use of Depo shot, its users can expect less stressful periods as it decreases pain and cramping.
Depo Shots and Periods
Many women who use Depo-Provera experience either an increase or decrease in menstrual bleeding, bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods, or have no menstrual bleeding at all (amenorrhea).
Depo Shots and Pregnancy
In a study conducted on the contraceptive failures of 258 women whose date of conception could be estimated, 45% became pregnant after Depo-Provera injection. However, there were no reported ectopic pregnancies or fetal anomalies. There have been cases when women using Depo shot during pregnancy have experienced Abortion Spontaneous or miscarriage. Chemical contraceptives are also known as abortifacients; meaning the cause of miscarriages when pregnancy DOES occur. They do NOT prevent the pregnancy. Read more here the signs of miscarriage.
What are the Side Effects of Depo Shots
What are the side effects of Depo Shots? While some women may experience relatively peaceful periods, there are Depo shot side effects that users have observed, not unlike most other forms of birth control options. Before using, women who are still planning to get pregnant need to know the Depo Shot side effects, one of which is the difficulty in getting back to a fertility state. Ovulation may not resume until after 10 months or more after stopping Depo Shot.
In 2018, a study conducted by the Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee concerning withdrawal symptoms of Depo-Provera, reported the following adverse effects associated with Depo shot. In the clinical trial, in which over 3900 DMPA users were followed for up to seven years, the following is the summary of the adverse effect report:
- more than 5% of subjects reported experiencing weight changes, menstrual irregularities such as unscheduled bleeding or amenorrhea, abdominal pain or discomfort, headache, dizziness, nervousness, and asthenia.
- 1% to 5% of subjects had decreased libido or anorgasmia, vaginitis, pelvic pain, backache, breast pain, leg cramps, depression, insomnia, and hot flashes.
- Bone density decrease is also a concern if DMPA is used long-term. Low gonadotropin secretion suppresses ovarian estradiol production. In a reduced serum estrogen state, bone formation is superseded by bone resorption, resulting in a bone mineral density decline.
A note on bone density decrease caused by depo shot: the loss of bone mineral density (BMD) leading to osteoporosis can happen to women of all ages who are using Depo-Provera. However, it is imperative to note its impact on peak bone mass in adolescents, especially since Depo shot is considered safe for girls under 18. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should also take note of Depo’s effect on BMD during pregnancy and lactation, especially if it is used long-term. There are recent studies, however, that state bone loss is largely reversible once the injections are stopped.
According to a clinical study on 4200 women who received DMPA for contraception for up to 7 years, here are the very common and common Depo shot side effects reported.
1. Very common adverse effects (?1/10)
- Abdominal pain / abdominal discomfort
- Weight increase or decrease
2. Common ( ? 1/100 to < 1/10)
- Libido decreased
- Nausea, abdominal distension
- Alopecia (hair loss), Acne, Rash
- Back pain, Pain in extremity
- Reproductive system and breast disorders: Vaginal discharge, breast tenderness, Dysmenorrhea, Genitourinary tract infection
There are other uncommon and rare adverse effects not noted above for potential users to consider before receiving a Depo-Provera birth control shot.
There are natural estrogen products such as Estriol Oil that could help with low estrogen. Estrogen is also responsible for stimulating other hormones in the body, which explains its role in improving skin texture, regulating body temperature, and preserving bone strength. Read more here the 3 Forms of Estrogen.
One takeaway: maintain a healthy reproductive life, as it greatly affects your well-being and quality of life. Your choices matter.