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- Birth control pill vs. the Depo-Provera shot, which method is right for you?
- Similarities and differences between how birth control pills vs. the shot work, and frequency of administration
- Birth control pill vs. shot effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
- Do birth control pills or shot cause weight gain?
- Similar side effects of the pill vs. shot
- Differences between side effects of the pill vs. shot
- Risks of both methods of birth control
- How long will it take me to get pregnant after discontinuing birth control pills vs. the Depo-Provera shot?
- Other methods of birth control
Birth control pill vs. the Depo-Provera shot, which method is right for you?
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).
Similarities and differences between how birth control pills vs. the shot work, and frequency of administration
Birth control pills and the birth control Deop-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 release of an egg, or ovulation.
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 work 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). It 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 make the environment in the uterus unfavorable to begin a pregnancy and may stop ovulation.
Birth control pill vs. shot effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
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 (average annual failure rate is about 3%).
Do birth control pills or shot cause weight gain?
Yes, women have reported weight gain while taking oral contraceptives and using the Depo-Provera shot.
Similar side effects of the pill vs. shot
Both methods can cause tenderness or soreness of 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.
Differences between side effects of the pill vs. shot
Unique side effects for 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 a few months.
Unique side effects of the Depo-Provera injection
Risks of both methods of birth control
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 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 headache 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
How long will it take me to get pregnant after discontinuing birth control pills vs. the Depo-Provera shot?
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.
Other methods of birth control
There are many different kinds and choices of birth control to prevent from becoming pregnant, for example, hormonal, for methods like birth control pills, and the birth control shot. Other birth control methods include:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
NIH; Eunice Kenedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "What are the different types of birth control?"
"Learn About Birth Control." Planned Parenthood.
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Top Birth Control Pill vs. Depo-Provera Shot Related Articles
Barrier Methods of Birth Control
Many barrier methods of birth control are available for a man or woman, for example, the sponge, female and male condoms, diaphram, spermicides, male condoms, female condoms, contraceptive sponge, diaphragm, and cervical cap. Side effects, and efficacy (in preventing pregnancy) depends on the type of birth control used.
Birth Control Methods
Birth 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 prior to using any birth control method.
Birth Control MethodsWhat are your birth control options? Learn about birth control side effects and effectiveness. Discover birth control methods such as birth control pills, birth control shot, implant, patch and more.
Birth Control Pills vs NuvaringBirth control pills (oral contraceptives) and Nuvaring (etonogestrel/ethinyl estradiol) are methods of birth control used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills are taken orally while Nuvaring is a vaginal ring inserted intravaginally.
Birth control pills vs Plan b levonorgestrelBirth control pills (oral contraceptives) and Plan B (levonorgestrel) are methods of birth control used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills are taken regularly to prevent pregnancy, while Plan B is emergency contraception (“the morning after pill”) used as backup contraception to prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex or when birth control fails.
Think You Know Birth Control QuizWhat is the best form of birth control? Take this quiz to find out about hormonal, surgical, barrier, and natural methods!
Cervical CancerCervical cancer is cancer of the entrance to the womb (uterus). Regular pelvic exams and Pap testing can detect precancerous changes in the cervix. Precancerous changes in the cervix may be treated with cryosurgery, cauterization, or laser surgery. The most common symptom of cancer of the cervix is abnormal bleeding.
CondomsCondoms provide a way for men and women to prevent pregnancy. There are many methods of birth control; some types also protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are one type of birth control that in addition to preventing pregnancy also prevent the spread of STD's.
DVT and Birth Control Pills Oral Contraceptives
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that has traveled deep into the veins of the arm, pelvis, or lower extremities. Oral contraceptives or birth control pills can slightly increase a woman’s risk for developing blood clots, including DVT.
DVT symptoms and signs in the leg include leg or calf pain, redness, swelling, warmth, or leg cramps, and skin discoloration. If a blood clot in the leg is not treated, it can travel to the lungs, which can cause a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) or post-thrombotic syndrome, both of which can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Increased risk factors for DVT and birth control pills include over 40 years of age, family history, smoking, and obesity. Other medical problems that increase the risks of blood clots, for example, lung or heart disease, or inflammatory bowel disease or IBD (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC).
Other options for preventing pregnancy include IUDs, birth control shots, condoms, diaphragms, and progestin-only oral contraceptives.
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).
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.
levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol extended cycle
Natural Methods of 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.
Norethindrone oral contraceptive (Nor QD, Nora-BE, Ortho Micronor) is a prescription drug used to prevent pregnancy. Side effects include headache, nausea, dizziness, breast tenderness, irregular vaginal bleeding, acne, fatigue, and weight gain. Drug interactions, storage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Oral Contraceptives, Birth Control PillsBirth control pills (oral contraceptives) are prescription medications that prevent pregnancy. Three combinations of birth control pills that contain progestin and estrogen are 1) monophasic, 2) biphasic, and 3) triphasic. Birth control pills may also be prescribed to reduce menstrual cramps or prevent anemia. Certain prescription medications may cause drug interactions. Some women experience various levels of side effects of birth control pills.
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.
Yeast Infection in Women and Men
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal pain with urination, vaginal discharge, odor, and itching.
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.