- Weight Gain
- Differences & Similarities
- Side Effects
- Long-Term Complications
- Other Birth Control
Facts you should know about the birth control pill vs. Depo-Provera
- The choice of what birth control method is highly personal and depends upon many factors.
- It is important to consider your age, overall health status, and how long you would like the birth control method to last.
- It also is important to look at how well each method works (its effectiveness) in preventing pregnancy, how easy each method is for you to use, and any side effects or drug interactions it may cause.
- The birth control pill ("the pill", oral contraceptives) and the Depo-Provera hormone injection ("shot") are just two of the many choices a woman has to prevent pregnancy. This article compares birth control pills (known as oral contraceptives) with the birth control shot (Depo-Provera injection).
- Women who have been using the shot may also have some delay in their ability to get pregnant after stopping it, for up to about 10 months in contrast to about 6 months for birth control pills.
Is Depo-Provera the most effective birth control?
Both the pill and the shot are very effective methods of birth control.
- When combination birth control pills are taken correctly, they are up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
- Progestin-only pills are about 95% effective.
- The birth control shot (Depo-Provera) also is about 99% effective in preventing pregnancy (the average annual failure rate is about 3%).
Do you gain more weight on Depo or the pill?
Yes, women have reported weight gain while taking oral contraceptives and using the Depo-Provera shot.
What are the differences and similarities between how birth control pills and Depo-Provera work?
Birth control pills and the birth control Depo-Provera shot are both hormonal methods of birth control. This means that they work by changing hormone levels in your body, preventing pregnancy from occurring. The hormones in birth control pills prevent the release of an egg or ovulation.
Birth control pills
Birth control pills are available as combination pills, containing the hormones estrogen and progestin, or as mini-pills containing progestin only.
- Both typically come in packs of 28 pills, and you take one pill daily.
- With combination pills, the last 7 pills in the pack do not contain hormones, and while you are taking these non-hormone pills, your menstrual period occurs.
- The menstrual period also occurs during the last 7 days of the progestin-only pill packs.
- Some newer types of birth control pills are taken continuously for a few months without the inactive pills before a menstrual period occurs.
- The pill also works to make the cervix (opening to the womb or uterus) and the uterus itself unfavorable for a pregnancy to begin.
- The birth control shot is known as Depo-Provera (and the newer low-dose Depo-SubQ Provera 104).
- The Depo-Provera shot contains the hormone progestin and prevents pregnancy for three months in a row.
- Like the hormones in birth control pills, the progestin in the shot makes the environment in the uterus unfavorable to begin a pregnancy and may stop ovulation.
Does Depo have the same side effects as the pill?
Unique side effects of oral contraceptives
- Mood changes
- So-called “breakthrough” bleeding or spotting at times other than the menstrual period.
- The side effects of the pill tend to get better after you have been using it for a few months.
Unique side effects of the Depo-Provera injection
- Irregular periods
Similar side effects of the pill vs. Depo-Provera injection
- Both methods can cause tenderness or soreness in the breasts.
- Other side effects of oral contraceptives and the Depo-Provera shot include headaches and mood changes.
- Both methods can lead to a decreased interest in sex (decreased libido) in some women.
Why is Depo not recommended for long term use?
Although the Depo-Provera shot is an effective form of contraception, it is not recommended for long-term use due to the shot's potential impact on bone health. Bone density may decrease over time because of the shot's synthetic progestin hormone ingredient. Your risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures increases the longer you take the shot. However, bone density may return to normal levels over several years after stopping the shot.
Does Depo ruin your fertility?
While the Depo-Provera shot does not ruin fertility, it may cause a slight delay in the return to fertility after discontinuation. The synthetic progestin hormone in the Depo shot can remain in your body for up to 12 weeks following your last injection. This can prevent ovulation and cause a delay in normal menstrual cycles.
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What is an advantage of Depo-Provera?
One of the major advantages of the Depo-Provera shot is that it is highly effective at preventing pregnancy. The shot has a failure rate of less than 1% which makes it one of the most effective forms of contraception available on the market.
What are the disadvantages of the Depo shot and birth control pill?
Both the pill and the shot do not offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Missing pills or taking longer than 12 weeks to get another shot increases the chances of becoming pregnant.
Other health risks of oral contraceptives
- Combination birth control pills have been linked to a small increase in the risk of a heart attack. However, this is a very rare event in young women.
- Birth control pills that contain estrogen increase the risk of blood clots, and some types of pills may increase the risk of stroke. Because of these risks, it is recommended that women over age 35 who smoke cigarettes, hookahs, etc. (tobacco) not use birth control pills.
- Birth control pills appear to increase the risk of cervical cancer, but decrease the risk of ovarian and endometrial (lining of the uterus) cancer.
- Data about their effect on breast cancer risk are not clear.
- Women with migraine headaches also appear to have an increased risk of blood clots when taking the pill, particularly women over age 35.
Other health risks of the Depo-Provera shot
- The birth control shot also may reduce bone density, perhaps raising the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life.
- Many experts also recommend that women with a history of blood clots or risk factors for cardiovascular disease not use the birth control shot.
What are other birth control options?
There are many different kinds and choices of birth control to prevent becoming pregnant, for example, hormonal, methods like birth control pills, and birth control shots.
Other birth control methods include:
- Barrier methods like the cervical cap, spermicides, and the diaphragm for women or condoms for men.
- IUDs (intrauterine devices)
- Natural family planning (for example, the rhythm method)
- Surgical sterilization (tubal ligation or vasectomy)
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Birth Control OptionsBirth control is available in a variety of methods and types. The method of birth control varies from person to person, and their preferences to either become pregnant or not. Examples of barrier methods include barrier methods (sponge, spermicides, condoms), hormonal methods (pill, patch), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy), natural methods, and the morning-after pill. Side effects and risks of each birth control option should be reviewed before using any birth control method.
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Can I Get Pregnant Even If He Pulls Out?If you use the pull out method perfectly each time, it has about a 96% success rate. However, it is challenging to do it exactly right every time. So, in reality, it has about a 78% success rate.
Cervical CancerCervical cancer is cancer of the entrance to the womb (uterus) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Regular pelvic exams, Pap testing, and screening can detect precancerous changes in the cervix. Cervical cancer can be prevented by a vaccine. The most common signs and symptoms are an increase in vaginal discharge, painful sex, and postmenopausal bleeding. The prognosis and survival rate depend upon the stage at which the cancer was diagnosed.
Does the Pill Stop Your Period?Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) or birth control pills or the pill is a hormonal pill that is used to prevent pregnancy. Because the pills alter your hormone levels, it is possible to temporarily stop or prevent your period with continuous use of any birth control pill.
Hormonal Methods of Birth ControlThere are several different hormonal methods of birth control. The hormones can be estrogen and/or progesterone. The hormones can be taken by mouth, implanted into body tissue, absorbed from a patch on the skin, injected under the skin, or placed in the vagina. Common types of hormonal birth control include: "The Pill" (oral contraceptives), injection (Depo-Provera, Lunelle), the patch (Ortho-Evra), and the vaginal ring (Nuvaring).
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IUD (Intrauterine Device for Birth Control)
An IUD (intrauterine device) is a birth control method designed for a woman. The IUD is a small "T" made of molded polyethylene plastic coated with barium so that, if need be, it can be seen on X-ray.
There are two types of IUDs 1) Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) including the ParaGard, Copper 7, and Mini-7; and 2) Intrauterine system (IUS) including Progestasert and Mirena.
Side effects of the IUD include spotting, infection, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Risks and complications of the IUD are miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and increased menstrual bleeding.
Natural Birth ControlNatural methods of contraception are considered "natural" because they are non-mechanical and non-hormonal. Fertility awareness methods (FAMs) are based upon knowing when a woman ovulates each month. Natural methods of birth control include: the calendar rhythm, basal body temperature, mucus inspection, symptothermal, use of an ovulation indicator testing kit, withdrawal, lactational infertility, douching and urination, and abstinence.
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Birth Control: Surgical SterilizationSurgical sterilization is considered a permanent method of contraception. In certain cases, sterilization can be reversed, but this is not guaranteed. For this reason, sterilization is meant for men and women who do not intend to have children in the future. Types of surgical sterilization include: vasectomy, tubal ligation, STOP (selective tubal occlusion procedure), and hysterectomy.
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Vaginal Yeast Infection
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Treatment is generally OTC medications. A man can contract a yeast infection from his female sexual partner. Symptoms of a yeast infection in men include penile itching. Treatment is with oral or topical medication.