Shot for Birth Control: Care Instructions

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Your 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 call line 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 during the first 5 days of your normal period, use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have intercourse for 24 hours.
  • If you get the shot more than 5 days after your periods starts, use backup birth control or don't have intercourse for 5 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?

Always read the label for specific instructions, or call your doctor or nurse call line. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Use backup birth control, such as a condom, or don't have intercourse. Continue using one of these methods until 5 days after you get the missed or late shot.
  • If you had intercourse, you can use emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill (Plan B). You can use emergency contraception for up to 5 days after having had sex, but it works best if you take it right away.

What else do you need to know?

  • The shot has side effects. Because the shot protects for 3 months, the side effects may last 3 months.
    • 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 this and take steps to prevent bone loss, such as getting enough calcium in your diet and exercising regularly.
  • 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/AIDS. If you're not sure whether your sex partner might have an STI, use a condom to protect against infection.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You have severe belly pain.

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

  • You think you may be pregnant.
  • You have any problems with your birth control.
  • You feel you may be depressed.
  • You regularly have spotting.
  • You think you may have been exposed to or have a sexually transmitted infection.

Where can you learn more?

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