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The Shot

Just what it sounds like—a shot that a girl gets; you need a new shot once every three months.


The shot (aka Depo-Provera or Depo) is just what it sounds like—a shot that a girl gets that keeps her from getting pregnant. Once you get it, you’re covered for three full months (but you have to go back to your medical provider every three months for a new shot).


The shot contains a hormone that prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place.


The shot is 94% effective. Note: When we talk about effectiveness we mean typical use numbers or what happens when couples used this method of birth control prettywell; it accounts for human errors and occasional contraceptive failure. BUT, teenagers are often not as careful as older people in using these methods, so real typical use rates for teens may be a little worse than what you see here. Keep that in mind as you're looking at the options and remember that for birth control to be effective, you have to use it consistently and correctly every single time.


  • Super effective.
  • Easy to remember.
  • Easy to use.
  • Always available (if you keep up with your appointments).
  • Completely private.
  • Longer-term coverage (shots are good for three months at a time).


  • Changes in appetite, weight, and mood.
  • Headache, nausea, and sore breasts.
  • Irregular bleeding (getting the shot can cause spotting).
  • No STI protection (it’s a good idea to double up with a second method like a male/female condom if you’re using the shot as your primary method). 

Note: Not every woman experiences these drawbacks—they are just some of the ones that are commonly reported. Talk to your medical provider to learn more and keep in mind that if this method doesn’t work for you, there are LOTS more out there…but it’s best to wait at least six months to see if things get better before you decide to switch. If they don’t, or if you just can’t deal with them, talk with your medical provider about finding something that works for you.


Yes.  The orginal Depo-provera shot is a hormonal contraceptive that needs to be administered (somebody has to give you the actual shot) by a health care provider every three months. There’s also a newer version of the shot—only available by prescription—called SubQ Depo that comes in a ready to use, pre-filled syringe that can be self-injected at home. Either way, you’ll need to talk to your health care provider if you're interested in trying the shot.

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Back to Birth Control Explorer

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