Depo Provera injection


This article on Depo Provera Contraceptive Injection explains how it works, who the injection is suitable for, the risks, the side effects, and the advantages  and disadvantages of Depo Provera.

What is a Depo Provera injection?

Depo Provera is an injection of progesterone, which is administered every 12 weeks. Progesterone is a female hormone, which occurs as part of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Where and when can you get Depo Provera?

Depo Provera is available from your doctor, your Family Planning Centre or your midwife.

If you have just had a baby, you will be advised to wait 6 weeks before your first injection to reduce the risk of irregular bleeding.

How do Depo Provera injections work?

Depo Provera works by inhibiting, or preventing, ovulation each month. In other words the level of progesterone in the woman’s body prevents her from releasing an egg each month.

The progesterone also changes the lining of the womb, maintaining it as a thin layer, as opposed to the changing thickness that usually occurs during the menstrual cycle. The fertilised egg usually implants when the lining is thick and spongy.

If you receive your first Depo Provera injection within the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle (when your period starts) you will receive instant contraception. If it is later in your cycle then use additional contraception, such as condoms, for the first 7 days.

It is important to have an injection every 12 weeks – some women will get pregnant straight after these 12 weeks, even though for others it would take longer.

How much does Depo Provera cost?

Depo Provera contraceptive injections are available at Family Planning Centres in New Zealand at the following costs –

  • The injections are free to women under 22 years.
  • For women with a Community Service Card the cost is $5 per injection
  • For women over 22, without a Community Service Card, the cost is $22.50 per injection.

Family doctors will also offer Depo Provera injections and prices may vary. Contact your local GP to find out the cost for you.

What is the success rate of Depo Provera?

Depo Provera is very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. It is more than 99% effective – so if 100 women use Depo Provera for one year, less than one will fall pregnant.

Depo Provera does NOT prevent sexually transmitted infections or STIs. It is necessary to use a condom also to prevent infection.

What are the risks with Depo Provera?

Depo Provera has been linked to reduced bone density, which is increased in post menopausal women.

This risk is reduced if

  • you do not smoke
  • you take a healthy diet, rich in calcium
  • exercise regularly (e.g. walking or jogging).

What are the pros of these contraceptive injections?

  • Depo Provera is suitable for almost all women, unlike contraceptives which combine progesterone with other hormones, namely the combined pill.
  • Depo Provera reduces the risk of endometrial cancer – cancer of the lining of the womb.
  • It does not interfere with love making
  • It lasts 12 weeks
  • There is no stress of remembering to take a pill every day.
  • Periods are very light; some women get very few periods while they are receiving Depo Provera injections.
  • Some women report an improvement in pre menstrual syndrome (PMS).

What are the cons?

  • It is not suitable for women with breast cancer.
  • It is not suitable for women who may wish to get pregnant in the near future. Depo Provera does not affect your fertility, but it may continue to prevent pregnancy for approximately 6 months after your last injection (and for up to 2 years in some cases).
  • Some women experience irregular or prolonged bleeding when they first use Depo Provera. Speak to your doctor about this as this may be relieved by having your next injection sooner, or by taking oral contraceptives also for one month.

Some women experience side effects with hormonal contraception –

  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Decreased sex drive, or libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Headaches

Useful websites & articles

For additional information on Condoms, click here.

To compare this contraceptive with the Combined Pill or Progesterone Only / Mini Pill, visit our informative articles.

To find your local Family Planning Clinic visit- 

Paula Skelton

Paula Skelton is a qualified NZ nurse and midwife, a midwifery & childbirth educator and the mum of three lovely girls.

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