Women who want to prevent pregnancy might consider using Depo-Provera. This medication can also be beneficial in relieving the symptoms of advanced forms of kidney or endometrial cancer. It comes as an injection that is administered into a muscle. Depo-Provera may also be used off-label to relieve the symptoms of menopause, endometriosis, and prostate cancer.
What Is Depo-Provera Used For?Depo-Provera® (medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection) is an injectable hormone medication that contains medroxyprogesterone, a form of progesterone. It is approved to prevent pregnancy and to ease the symptoms of advanced kidney cancer and endometrial cancer.
Using Depo-Provera to Prevent PregnancyDepo-Provera is an injectable birth control option that offers an alternative to birth control pills (oral contraceptives). It is sometimes called "the birth control shot." Depo-Provera is given via an intramuscular injection (an injection into the muscle).
Depo-Provera is similar to the contraceptive depo-subQ Provera 104™ (medroxyprogesterone subcutaneous injection). However, the depo-subQ Provera injection is given in the layer of tissue just below the skin (a subcutaneous, or subQ, injection), rather than into a muscle like Depo-Provera. Both medications contain medroxyprogesterone as their active ingredient and are given every three months to prevent pregnancy.
There are a few reasons why a woman may choose Depo-Provera over other birth control methods. Depo-Provera is a long-acting contraceptive; each shot protects against pregnancy for three months. Some women may find this convenient, as there is no need to remember to take a daily birth control pill. Some women may also find Depo-Provera discrete, because it can be given in the privacy of your healthcare provider's office.
In addition, Depo-Provera is a progestin-only birth control, which means, unlike most hormonal birth control, it does not contain estrogen. This makes it a good choice for women who should not use estrogen. For example, it is not usually recommended for women to use estrogen within the four weeks after childbirth, as it can increase the risk for a serious blood clot. Estrogen can also decrease breast milk production.
Depo-Provera has some disadvantages to consider as well. Because the contraceptive is long-acting, bothersome side effects may persist until the medication has been removed from the bloodstream. In addition, if you want to become pregnant, you will have to wait until your last shot has worn off. This can take many months. Studies suggest that the average time to pregnancy is 10 months after stopping Depo-Provera; however, some women may not be able to conceive for several years.
Depo-Provera can negatively affect bone health. Because of its effects on the bones, it should generally not be used for birth control for longer than two years, unless other forms of birth control are not an option (see Depo-Provera Warnings and Precautions for more information).
It is important to know that Depo-Provera does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many situations, it is advisable to use condoms in addition to Depo-Provera to prevent the transmission of STDs.