Depo-Provera – What Is Depo-Provera?

There are many different types of birth control methods on the market today but one of the most common is called Depo-Provera, also known as DMPA. This is an injectable form of contraceptive. It is commonly referred to as the birth control shot or Depo shot. Many women enjoy the convenience of using this particular method of birth control because it does not have to be taken everyday and this minimizes the risk of accidentally pregnancy as a result of forgotten or missed birth control pills. Even though this method of birth control has gained such popularity, there are still many people who do not quite understand exactly what it is.

How Does Depo Work?

When a woman receives a shot of Depo-Provera what happens essentially is that a synthetic form of the female hormone called progesterone is slowly released into her system. This will occur for a period of about 3 months and during this time ovulation is stopped completely. Without ovulation there will be no egg and as a result, nothing for the sperm to fertilize, thereby making pregnancy impossible. In addition, this hormone also causes the mucous within the cervix to thicken making it very difficult for sperm to make their way through to the uterus. There is also progestin in Depo and this works by thinning out or even totally preventing the growth of uterine tissue. This makes it very hard for an egg to implant itself to the wall of the uterus. Because of this triple protection offered by the Depo shot, it has become the number one choice in birth control among women.

How It Is Administered

As of now there are actually two different types of Depo-Provera. Neither of them is considered more or less effective and they both work in the exact same way in terms of protection from pregnancy. However, there are a few minor differences in the two types. The first is the original Depo shot and this type must be injected into muscle such as that found in the thigh, arm or buttocks. This shot is required four times per year and contains 150 milligrams of medroxyprogesterone acetate. This shot will begin protecting you from pregnancy immediately. The second type of Depo injection is the Depo-subQ Provera 104 shot and this is given in the skin rather than a muscle. This type of injection is commonly less painful and because there is actually a slightly lower dose of progestin in it, there may be fewer side effects associated with it. This shot will also begin protecting immediately from pregnancy and like the original, will only be needed once every 3 months. The subQ form is the newest to hit the market and it is becoming increasingly popular.

Advantages of Using Depo-Provera

One of the main advantages of using the Depo-Provera shot as a form of contraceptive is that it only has to be taken four times per year. This seems to be much more convenient for women and easier to remember. In addition, menstrual periods are very light when using this type of birth control or they may even stop altogether after a certain period of time on the shot. It is a reversible and very effective form of birth control and does not hinder sexual activity at all. This form of birth control does not contain estrogen so that means that more women can take it as there are a lot of women who cannot tolerate estrogen. Many women also enjoy the discretion that comes with this form of birth control, no muss no fuss. There is also good news where women who breast feed are concerned as this form of birth control is totally safe for use during lactation.

Disadvantages of Using Depo-Provera

Depo is labeled with a warning related to potential bone loss in women who use the product for a prolonged period as a result of calcium loss. Some women who use this product have to discontinue use due to irregular spotting or bleeding and/or usually prolonged bleeding. This typically happens during the first 12 weeks of use. Some clinical studies suggest that about 5% of women may develop some sort of skin reaction at the injection site. The skin surrounding the site could become lumpy or dimpled. It is also recommended that this shot be discontinued for a period of about 12 months prior to trying to conceive. This can be a bit of an inconvenience as it can take anywhere from 10 months to a year to begin ovulation again. There is a slight risk of weight gain in the amount of anywhere between 3 and a half to 5 pounds during the first 12 months of use.

Other Use for Depo

Not only is the Depo-subQ Provera 104 injection a powerful birth control agent but it is also the very first remedy for the treatment of endometriosis to come along in about 15 years. According to studies released by the FDA, this birth control solution is just as effective, if not more so, as the drug called leuprolide but it has fewer side effects related to vasomotor symptoms such as excessive sweating or hot flashes. It is also noted as being quite effective in stopping bone loss that can occur in women. The pain associated with endometriosis seems to be relieved by the fact that Depo thins the endometrial tissue. In addition, studies have shown that this drug can also help to lower the risk of cancer of the uterine lining.

The most important thing when using Depo is to make a note of when you are due for your next injection so that you do not miss one. It is vital that you schedule these appointments for once every 12 weeks. Another thing to be aware of is that if there are any side effects associated with the Depo shot, there is very little that can be done to stop them until after the shot has completely worn off. This takes about 12 weeks so be sure you do your homework and weight out all of your options before beginning this product.

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