STD Home > Depo-Provera Side Effects

Possible side effects of Depo-Provera may include irregular menstrual bleeding, weight gain, and headaches. In most cases, if side effects occur while using this medicine, they tend to be mild and easy to treat. However, notify your healthcare provider immediately if you are using Depo-Provera and develop symptoms such as a severe headache, vision or speech changes, or coughing up blood.

An Introduction to Depo-Provera Side Effects

Just like any medicine, Depo-Provera® (medroxyprogesterone intramuscular injection) can cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses the medication will have problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible Depo-Provera side effects. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list with you.)

Common Side Effects of Depo-Provera

Depo-Provera has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people receiving Depo-Provera were carefully documented. As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred and how often they appeared.
In these studies, common side effects of Depo-Provera included:
  • Irregular menstrual bleeding (such as spotting or an increase or decrease in bleeding) -- in up to 57.3 percent of people
  • Lack of a menstrual period (amenorrhea) -- up to 55.0 percent
  • Weight gain -- up to 37.7 percent
  • Headache -- up to 16.9 percent
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain or discomfort -- up to 11.2 percent
  • Nervousness -- up to 10.8 percent
  • Dizziness -- up to 5.6 percent
  • Decreased libido (sex drive) -- up to 5.5 percent.
Irregular menstrual bleeding will usually decrease over several months. Most women will eventually stop having periods with repeated Depo-Provera use.
Other common side effects, occurring in 1 to 5 percent of people, may include:
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Leg cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Breast pain or tenderness
  • Bloating or swelling
  • Backache
  • Painful menstruation
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Lack of hair growth
  • Rash
  • Vaginal itching and irritation
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Hot flashes.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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