All you need to know about contraceptive injections

The pros and cons of injected contraception


Contraceptive injections are available as a type of hormonal contraceptive for women. Commonly known as Depo, Depo-Ralovera and Depo-Provera, contraceptive injections are considered as a long-acting option for hormonal control. The injections have artificial progesterone called Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA). A single contraceptive injection is effective for 12 to 14 weeks.

Mechanism of Action

Contraceptive or progesterone injections are administered either in the gluteus muscle, thigh muscle or the arm. They are normally given during the menstrual cycle in the first five days. The injections can only be administered by a health professional. The injection itself stops the ovaries from the process of ovulation. It also helps increase the thickness of cervical wall so that male discharge cannot enter the uterus during intercourse.

Once a contraceptive injection has been administered into the body, it releases the hormone into the bloodstream over an interval of 12 to 14 weeks. This protects the woman against pregnancy for a period of three months.

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What are the Advantages of Contraceptive Injection?

There are many advantages of the contraceptive injection which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The injection is very convenient and effective.
  • If you have a baby that is more than six weeks old, you can get the injection even if you are breastfeeding.
  • More than 50% of the women get the injection because they stop periods altogether which many women prefer.
  • Contraceptive injection does not interfere with any form of medication.
  • Unless you tell someone about it, nobody can know whether you are using it or not.

What are the Disadvantages of Contraceptive Injections?

While there are many advantages of contraceptive injections, there are also many disadvantages. These include the following:

  • Once a shot has been administered, it cannot be withdrawn or reversed.
  • If side effects occur from the shot, they will likely last for as long as the injection is effective.
  • The injections either stop the periods altogether or make them irregular.
  • Once the effects of the injection wear off, it can take some time for periods to become regular and the chances of pregnancy are reduced during this time.
  • The contraceptive injection can cause bone thinning due to a temporary reduction in bone density.
  • Some women experience mood changes, headaches or weight gain.
  • No protection is offered by the shot against sexually transmitted infections or diseases.

When Should I Get an Injection Administered?

The ideal time to get a shot of progesterone injection is during the first five days of your period. Once the shot has been administered, it stays effective for a period of three months. If you want to get another continue the injection, you should follow up with your doctor/healthcare professional in the tenth week, approximately two weeks before the effect wears off.

If you are planning to get a contraceptive injection after the first days of your menstrual cycle, you should keep in mind that it will take seven days before it becomes fully effective. During the week after you get the injection, you will either have to abstain from sex or use other forms of contraceptive in order to avoid an accidental pregnancy.

Who Should Not Use These Contraceptive Injections?

Injectable contraceptives should not be used by the following women:

  • Women who are pregnant
  • Women who have recently given birth
  • Women who have a history of breast cancer
  • Women who suffer from irregular vaginal bleeding during the menstrual cycle
  • Women who have a history of stroke or cardiovascular diseases
  • Women who suffer from diseases like liver disease, diabetes, blood clotting or hypertension
  • Women who are looking for a temporary contraceptive method should also consider other forms of contraceptives. Progesterone injections can cause a long delay in resuming periods after you stop the treatment. If you wish to become pregnant within a year of stopping after this form of contraception, you should look at other methods that can be reversed easier than progesterone injection.

How Effective is the Contraceptive Injection?

The injection itself is very effective. The effectiveness of this form of contraception ranges from 94% to 99%.

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