Women's Health Base

A look at women, the world and the web

Behind the label – Depo-Provera

Posted by hannahflynn on May 3, 2009


It’s being promoted by health care professionals up and down the country, in fact top gynaecologists are lamenting its lack of popularity amongst women in Britain today. But is this aversion based on fact? Just what is it about free, long term, reversible, effective contraception that is putting people off?


As just mentioned it is long term, three months to be precise. You just have to pop down to your local surgery and the nurse will give you a jab in your bum. It can also stop your periods, which is nice. It is also reversible in that after three months your natural menstrual cycle should return to normal just like the pill, as this is a hormonal based form of contraception. It is also extremely effective, 99.7% to be exact[1]. It is a form of hormonal contraception but it has lower drug interactions than the pill. This is not just good news for people on long term medication but it is also good news for you when you have the odd bout of something nasty and need a course of antibiotics. Furthermore it is discrete, hopefully you shouldn’t need that in this day and age, but if you can’t stand lugging your pill packet everywhere this might be for you.


Here is the crunch. Ten percent of women experience what the medical establishment euphemistically term ‘menstrual irregularities’. This means on and off periods for three months. Some women cite permanent bleeding for six to 12 weeks. And in the unlucky few this can last for 18 months (if you stick with it for that long). It is also suggested you do not use Depo Provera for more than 2 years due to a causal link with bone loss (likely to be due to the lack of oestrogen). That potentially gives you just six months of ‘pros’. You have also got to live with the fact that you are taking a drug used as a form of chemical castration in men in some states in the US.

Typical use problems

There are none. As long as you go and get your injection every 12 to 13 weeks, which you will be scheduled in for on the NHS you can’t get it wrong. It’s the most effective, easy to use reversible form of contraception.


Like some other forms of long term contraception there are claims of coercion and lack of informed consent among illiterate women.

Who would it be good for?

People who can’t remember to take the pill and forms of barrier contraception and people who absolutely can not have a baby, like women on high risk medication.


[1] Trussell, James (2004). “Contraceptive Efficacy”. in Hatcher, Robert A.; Trussell, James; Stewart, Felicia H.; Nelson, Anita L.; Cates Jr., Willard; Guest, Felicia; Kowal, Deborah. Contraceptive Technology (18th rev. ed.). New York: Ardent Media. pp. 773–845. ISBN 0-9664902-5-8.


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