Depo Provera – My Personal Review

What Is Depo-Provera?

It is the birth control injection, often referred to as just the depo. It contains a larger dose of the hormone progestogen which lasts for up to 12 weeks.

How Does It Work?

You have the injection in the top of your bum cheek, every 12 weeks. If you are a larger lady and it’s not ideal to have it there, they’ll give it through your arm instead. To be honest, I think I would have preferred that! Being injected in the bum cheek isn’t very pleasant! [Although I am notoriously squeamish, so that could just be me…]

The injection steadily releases the hormone – which thickens the mucus in the cervix, stopping sperm reaching an egg. It also thins the womb lining and, in some, prevents the release of an egg.

If you need further information, please refer to the NHS page.

The Effects

Well obviously, depo provera affects your ability to get pregnant for starters. It’s supposed to be more than 99% effective, more than the contraceptive pills are. I used it because I was struggling to remember to take my pill [naughty me] and because it seemed more convenient to simply have the injection once every three months and not worry about it.

I stopped having periods altogether when I was on the injection. For around 2 years, I didn’t have a single period. Whilst this is great [who doesn’t want to not have periods?], it did mean that I would occasionally worry that I was pregnant. I had no way of knowing whether I’d missed a period, because I wasn’t having them. This might not be the same for you – things affect every woman differently, and it could go the completely opposite way, and cause you to have heavy bleeding. It’s a lotto that no-one wants to play…

The doctor explained to me at the time that you shouldn’t stay on the injection long-term – mine said no more than about 3 years. The depo injection can affect bone density, and so it’s not recommended to stay on it longer than that.

Another thing to consider – if you have a bad reaction to the injection; makes you feel sick, gives you heavy bleeding etc, then you can’t do anything about it. All you can do is wait for the 12 weeks to be up. You cannot remove it once it’s in, and so you are taking a risk that you will be okay!

The Pros

  • one shot and you’re covered for three months, no remembering a daily pill
  • no periods although as mentioned above – there are pros and cons for that too [and everybody is different, so it might not work that way for you]
  • it’s over 99% effective – more than the contraceptive pill

The Cons

  • if you don’t like needles, it’s probably not for you
  • it hurts – but I’m a wuss so you might be fine!
  • as above, it stopped my periods completely, which meant I occasionally worried if I was pregnant because I had no way of telling
  • you still have to remember to go have your shot and you can’t just get a repeat – you need a proper appointment every time
  • the bone density thing is concerning
  • it’s not a long-term birth control solution
  • if you have a bad reaction to it – tough, it’s stuck in you for 12 weeks..
  • it still doesn’t provide protection against STDs – use a condom
  • coming off it is a freaking nightmare…

Stopping The Depo Injections

At Christmas 2016, I decided that I was going to stop having my injections. I was due to have it on like the 29th December, and I just didn’t want to have it. I wanted to let my body do its own thing for a while, and get back to some kind of normality.

Boy, it was not that simple.

First off, my periods didn’t just return. It took until May for me to have a bleed – and then it was two weeks on, two weeks off for a while. That was a fun time…

In June, July and August, I’ve seemed to return to some kind of regularity finally. It’s taken 8 months, and I know that for some women, it can take up to 18 months for their periods to return to normal, which is a long freaking time. It can be really worrying, which is not ideal when we have so much else going on.

Secondly, my breasts were ridiculously painful for about four months. The doctor, and lots of online forums, confirmed that it was completely normal when coming off the depo – but it didn’t feel normal. It was awful. I’ve never really struggled with getting tender breasts, and so I had no idea that it was sooo painful. Wearing a bra hurt, and not wearing a bra hurt. Sleeping on anything but my back hurt. Touching them in any way hurt. Not fun…

I also spoke to my doctor about my fertility during the first few months where I wasn’t bleeding. They explained that I could still get pregnant, even though I wasn’t having any periods – but the chances were slightly reduced. Still, if you’re not looking to get pregnant, USE SOMETHING ELSE. Condoms are great, but use them carefully. I know so many people who’ve got pregnant when using condoms as their sole method of contraception. [Talk to your GP if you have any concerns or questions – I’m not a doctor and am only explaining my personal experiences].

Would I Use The Depo Again?

The short answer is no. Whilst it does have some benefits, the whole aftermath of coming off it was enough to put me off. Whilst periods suck, they are necessary, and I like knowing what’s going on with my body. I’ve gone back on the POP [progestogen only pill], which I started again this month. I’ve set an alarm on my phone, and I’m just going to make a real effort to take it!

At least with the pill, I have a lot more control over things, and I know that I’m still covered!

I hope you’ve found this useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a comment 🙂 you can also get in touch via my Facebook 🙂

Please share this with your friends; it could be just the information they’re looking for!

Laura



  • Dottie

    There’s an app called Clue that’s available on iPhone and Android and it’s so helpful with regards to period tracking (you can see what’s normal, if anything changes, etc.) And you can also set helpful reminders which means you’ll get a notification when you need to take your pill – it’s really helped me take mine regularly and I feel better for it 🙂

    • Oh right I’ve never heard of that before! That does sound really interesting, I’ll have a little look into it 🙂 I do have an alarm set on my phone to make sure I take my pill but I still sometimes think I’ll do it in a minute and forget!

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