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Shot for Birth Control: Care Instructions


The shot is used to prevent pregnancy. You get the shot in your upper arm or rear end (buttocks). The shot gives you a dose of the hormone progestin. The shot is often called by its brand name, Depo-Provera.

The shot provides birth control for 3 months at a time. You then need another shot.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

How do you use the birth control shot?

  • If you get the shot within the first 7 days of starting your normal period, you are protected from pregnancy right away.
  • If you get the shot more than 7 days after your period starts, use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have vaginal intercourse for 7 days.
  • Talk to your doctor about a schedule to get the shot. You need the shot every 3 months. If you are late getting it, you'll need backup birth control.

What if you miss or are late for a shot?

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have vaginal intercourse. Continue using one of these methods until 7 days after you get the missed or late shot.
  • If you had vaginal intercourse and you don't want to get pregnant, you can use emergency contraception. The most effective emergency contraception is an IUD (inserted by a doctor). You can also get emergency contraceptive pills. You can get them with a prescription from your doctor or without a prescription at most drugstores or sexual health clinics.

What else do you need to know?

  • The shot can have side effects.
    • You may have changes in your period and your period may stop. You may also have spotting or bleeding between periods.
    • You may have mood changes, less interest in sex, or weight gain.
  • The shot may cause bone loss. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using the shot.
  • Check with your doctor before you use any other medicines, including over-the-counter medicines and natural health products. Birth control hormones may not work as well to prevent pregnancy when combined with other medicines.
  • The shot doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV. A condom can be used to reduce your risk of getting an STI.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have swelling or a skin colour change at the site of the shot that lasts longer than 48 hours. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your usual skin colour.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You think you might be pregnant.
  • You think you may be depressed.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.