How Does The Birth Control Shot Work
The hormone progestin in the birth control shot works by preventing ovulation . If a girl doesn’t ovulate, she cannot get pregnant because there is no egg to be fertilized.
The progestin also thickens the mucus around the cervix. This makes it hard for sperm to enter the uterus and reach any eggs that may have been released. The progestin also thins the lining of the uterus so that an egg will have a hard time attaching to the wall of the uterus.
Birth Control In A Nutshell
First up, a reminder of what birth control is and how it works so you can better understand its effects on pregnancy.
Birth control is any method you use to prevent pregnancy. There are plenty of options out there: barrier birth control , surgical methods , and hormonal birth control are some of your options.
The most common form of hormonal birth control is the pill. Birth control pills are more than 99 percent effective when used correctly. Sounds almost foolproof, right? Not quite. Were human and sometimes we skip doses. That means the pill is only 91 percent effective in reality .
Those who want to avoid daily pills may prefer intrauterine devices or implants. These are more than
So lets say that youre among the number of women who do get pregnant while taking the pill. Youve got questions buzzing round your head. We got you:
At A Glance: The Contraceptive Injection
- If used correctly, the contraceptive injection is more than 99% effective.
- It lasts for 8 or 13 weeks so you do not have to think about contraception every day or every time you have sex during this period.
- It’s very useful for women who find it difficult to remember to take a pill at the same time every day.
- It does require you to remember to have a repeat injection before it expires or becomes ineffective.
- It can be useful for women who cannot use contraception that contains oestrogen.
- It’s not affected by other medicines.
- Side effects can include weight gain, headaches, mood swings, breast tenderness and irregular bleeding.
- Your periods may become more irregular, heavier, shorter, lighter or stop altogether.
- It can take up to 1 year for your fertility to return to normal after the injection wears off, so it may not be suitable if you want to have a baby in the near future.
- It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections , so you may need to use condoms as well.
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Regular Menstrual Cycle Returns
Having a regular menstrual cycle is the most obvious sign that ovulation has started. Your menstrual cycle lasts from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. Your cycles are considered regular or normal when they meet the following conditions:
- Duration: Your periods last 8 days or fewer
- Flow volume: You lose between 2 to 3 tablespoons of menstrual fluid during each period. Just spotting could be a sign that you’re not ovulating.
- Frequency: Your periods typically come every 24 to 38 days . This means that from the first day of your last period up to the start of your next period is at least 24 days but no more than 38 days.
- Regularity: Your cycles are consistent from month to month. For example, your cycle is 27 days long one month, and 29 the next. Cycles that vary in length by more than 7 to 9 days are considered irregular.
Can You Get Pregnant If You Use Spermicide
If youre just using spermicide a chemical that you put deep within the vagina before you have sex alone, its not a reliable method of birth control. More than a quarter of all women 28 percent will get pregnant using just this method.
Spermicide helps prevent pregnancy by blocking the entrance to the cervix so sperm cant get to the egg, as well as slowing sperm down. Its great to use in addition to other birth control methods such as condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps, but not reliable enough to use by itself.
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Can You Get Pregnant On Birth Control Prevent Birth Control From Failing
Nearly all women use some form of birth control during their lifetime, and almost two-thirds are currently using it at any point in time. But while there are 18 different types of birth control available, the effectiveness of each type can vary dramatically, ranging from more than 99 percent for the birth control implant Nexplanon to only about 70 percent for spermicide.
If you’re not currently trying to get pregnant, here’s what you need to know about the effectiveness of some of the most common types of birth control.
What Are The Benefits
The shot is safe, simple and convenient to use. It provides an effective solution to prevent pregnancy for up to three months. Some of the other benefits include:
- Preventing cancer on the lining of the uterus
- No daily pills required
- Contains no estrogen
- Private method of birth control
- Improved sex life
- No prep work before having sex
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People Who Are Breastfeeding
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are breastfeeding. Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines currently used in the United States did not include people who are breastfeeding. Because the vaccines have not been studied in people who are breastfeeding, there are limited data available on the:
- Safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are breastfeeding
- Effects of vaccination on the breastfed baby
- Effects on milk production or excretion
COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone, including the mother or the baby, and the vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. More data are needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby.4-7
Where You Can Get It
You can get the contraceptive injection for free, even if you’re under 16, from:
- contraception clinics
- sexual health or genitourinary medicine clinics
- GP surgeries
Sayana Press is a new form of Depo-Provera and is available in some clinics.
It’s very similar to Depo-Provera in the way it works and the effects it can have on your body.
But you’ll be taught how to give yourself the injection, rather than having a doctor or nurse give it to you.
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Getting Pregnant With The Patch Ring Or Shot
There are a few more options when it comes to birth control, and these include the patch, the vaginal ring and the Depo-Provera shot. Black says the failure rate for typical use of the patch and the ring is the same as the pill: eight percent. The Depo-Provera shot has a failure rate of just six percent with typical use.
With all three types of contraception, adherence is the biggest risk factor. They need to be used as directed to work effectively. Costescu says with the patch, which you replace once a week , one issue is that it may accidentally fall off. With the ring, he explains that replacing it on time is key. And it can only be removed for short periods of time if you want it to remain effective. Some women choose to remove the NuvaRing when theyre sexually active, and we recommend that it only be removed for up to three hours so, it cant be taken out, for instance, for an overnight date, he says.
Black adds that the same medications that make the pill less effective would have a similar effect on the patch and ring.
With Depo-Provera shots, Costescu notes, you must visit a health-care provider every three months to get the shot. He also says that the shot may be a good option if youre on anti-seizure medication, as the high dose of hormones that come with this type of birth control means those medications may not interfere with its effectiveness.
Trying To Conceive: After Birth Control
Last Editorial Review: 3/7/2005
WebMD Live Events Transcript
What effects, if any, do the pill, Depo-Provera, or other birth control choices have on your fertility? Amos Grunebaum, MD, medical director of the WebMD Fertility Center, joined us on May 24, 2004, to talk about TTC after birth control, as well as the first baby steps to parenthood, from understanding your cycle to the ABCs of fertility charting.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests’ alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
MEMBER QUESTION:Dr. Grunebaum, is it true that if I have been on birth control pills for 16 months, it will take me time to conceive? I have been TTC the past five months and am not pregnant. Thank you.
DR. AMOS:The birth control pill works by preventing ovulation. Once you stop taking the pill, the hormones are out of your body quickly, usually within a couple of days. When the hormones are gone your body needs to start again on its own to function. That mean it will start producing follicles again, which eventually lead you to ovulate. Everybody acts differently, some may take a couple of weeks to ovulate, other may take some months, but in general your body should be in “normal mode” within less than two to three months after stopping the pill. So if you now ovulate normally, that means your body is back to its normal rhythm.
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Getting Pregnant While On Birth Control Pills
The birth control pill is popular with Canadian women. According to the Canadian Health Measures Survey released by Statistics Canada in 2015, some 16 percent of non-pregnant Canadian women aged 15 to 49 had taken either the combined pill or the progestin-only pill in the month before they were polled. And it is quite effective, though definitely not perfect. Amanda Black, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at The Univeristy of Ottawa, notes that both the combined and the progestin-only pill have an eight percent failure rate with typical use. The main reason for failure? People dont take it consistently. For those taking the combined pill, its especially important to take it every day during the first week of your pack, says Costescu. If you miss any, even a single pill in that first week, there may not be enough estrogen to keep you from ovulating, and then theres a risk of getting pregnant, he says, explaining that the lull in hormones during the previous week off already begins the process of making an egg, so missing a pill in the first seven days can trigger ovulation. Theres even less room for error with the progestin-only pill, where being more than three hours late with your dose is a risk for pregnancy.
Who Cannot Get It
The birth control shot should not be used by women who:
- Have unexplained vaginal bleeding that they have not discussed with a health care provider
- Have a history of a stroke
- Diabetes with complications
- Lupus with antiphospholipid antibodies
Tell your health care provider if you have any of these risk factors or conditions, or any other medical concerns.
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People Who Are Pregnant
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant. If you are pregnant, you might want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about COVID-19 vaccination. While such a conversation might be helpful, it is not required before vaccination. You can receive a COVID-19 vaccine without any additional documentation from your healthcare provider.
CDC recommendations align with those from professional medical organizations serving people who are pregnant, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologistsexternal icon and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicinepdf iconexternal icon.
If you got pregnant after receiving your first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses , you should get your second shot to get as much protection as possible. If you experience fever following vaccination, you should take acetaminophen because feverfor any reasonhas been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.
If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, you can contact MotherToBaby. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available MondayFriday 8am5pm . To reach MotherToBaby:
- Chat live or send an email MotherToBabyexternal icon
Talking With Your Doctor
When youre ready to make a decision about birth control, consult your doctor. Together, the two of you can weigh your options and rule out any forms of birth control that dont suit your needs or your lifestyle. Then, you can focus your discussion on the options most appealing to you.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you plan to have children? If you do, how soon?
- Can you fit a daily pill into your schedule? Will you forget?
- Is this method safe given your health profile and family history?
- Are you looking for other benefits, such as fewer periods?
- Will you be paying out of pocket, or is this covered by insurance?
You dont have to make a choice right away. Gather as much information as you feel you need.
When youre ready, tell your doctor what you think would be best. If they agree, you can get a prescription and begin using birth control right away. If you begin taking a form of birth control and decide its not for you, talk with your doctor. Let them know what you do and dont like. That way, the two of you can look for an alternative that may be better suited to your needs.
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When Do I Start The Shot And When Is It Effective
It is recommended you get the shot right away. The shot is effective in preventing pregnancy after one week of use, so you need to use a backup method of birth control such as condoms, or not have sex for 7 days. You do not have to wait for your period to start, but if you happen to get your shot within the first 5 days of your period you are protected right away.
When It Starts To Work
You can have the injection at any time during your menstrual cycle, as long as you’re not pregnant.
If you have the injection during the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle, you’ll be immediately protected against becoming pregnant.
If you have the injection on any other day of your cycle, you’ll need to use additional contraception, such as condoms, for 7 days.
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How Can I Get The Birth Control Shot
You can visit a clinic to get the shot or a prescription for it and talk with a healthcare provider about whether it is right for you. You will then need to visit a clinic every 11-14 weeks to get your shots.
- Lighter or no periods over time most people stop bleeding completely
- Improved menstrual symptoms for some users
- You only need to remember to get the shot every 3 months
- You have complete control over the method and no one can interfere with its effectiveness
- May possibly treat and decrease pain associated with endometriosis
- Reduced risk of uterine cancer and ovarian cancer
- A good choice for people who cannot use estrogen
- Unpredictable bleeding is common especially during the first year of use, including spotting, prolonged bleeding or no bleeding. This often improves over time.
- You need to plan ahead to return every 11-14 weeks for injections
- Side effects may include weight gain, headaches, breast tenderness and mood changes
- Side effects from the shot may continue for 6 or more months after you have stopped using it
- When you stop using the shot, there may be a delay in return to fertility , but some people get pregnant right away
- No protection against sexually transmitted infections
What If Im Late Getting My Birth Control Shot
If you get your shot late, you may not be protected from pregnancy but it depends on how late you are. You can get your follow-up shots as early as 10 weeks after your last shot, or as late as 15 weeks after your last shot. But, if you get your shot more than 15 weeks after your last shot, youll need to use another method of birth control, like a condom, for the first week after getting your shot.
If you have vaginal sex without using a condom more than 15 weeks after your last shot, you should use emergency contraception. You may also need to take a pregnancy test before getting your next shot. The best way to prevent pregnancy while using the shot? Make sure you always get your shot on time, every time.
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Path To Improved Health
Depo-Provera works for about 3 months at a time. To prevent pregnancy, you have to get 1 shot from your doctor 4 times a year, about 12 to 14 weeks apart. If you get it in the first 7 days of your cycle, it works right away. If you dont, youll need to use another form of birth control for 1 week. Your doctor will confirm you are not pregnant before giving you the injection.
Most women who use Depo-Provera have changes in their menstrual periods. These may include:
- Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods.
- An increase or decrease in menstrual bleeding.
- No menstrual bleeding at all.
About half of women who use Depo-Provera stop having periods after 1 year. This is not harmful. Menstrual bleeding usually returns to normal when you stop using Depo-Provera. It may take about 9 to 10 months to get pregnant after your last shot.
Contact your doctor right away if you have abnormally heavy or nonstop bleeding. Other possible side effects of Depo-Provera include:
- weight gain
- blood clots
- A history of heart attack or stroke.
- Unknown vaginal bleeding.
- An allergy to the drug in Depo-Provera.