Birth control shot icon

Birth control shot 

  • 94% effective
  • Get every 3 months
  • Injected by a provider
  • Contains hormones
  • No STI/STD protection
  • Irregular or no periods


What is it?
  • The birth control shot is a hormone injection you get once every 3 months to prevent pregnancy.

  • A health care provider gives you the birth control shot in your arm or butt every 12 weeks. That’s about every 3 months, or 4 times a year.

  • If used perfectly, the birth control shot is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. But people aren’t perfect. So, in reality, the birth control shot is about 94% effective.*

  • The birth control shot is temporary, so you can get pregnant after you stop using it.

  • A common birth control shot brand is Depo-Provera.
How it works
  • The birth control shot contains the hormone progestin to stop you from getting pregnant.

  • The progestin works by:

    • Stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs. When eggs aren’t released, you can’t get pregnant.

    • Making the mucus in your cervix too thick for sperm to pass through. This prevents sperm from meeting an egg.
How to get it
  • You can get a birth control shot at your medical facility.
  • Because of the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost. Check with Member Services or your provider for details.
What to expect
  • You must visit a provider every 12 weeks to get a new birth control shot.

  • During each visit, a provider gives you a shot in your arm or butt.

  • If you miss your shot at the 12-week mark, you may not be protected from pregnancy. You should use another form of birth control, like a condom, for the first week after getting a shot.
  • The birth control shot is about 94% effective in preventing pregnancy. That’s because people don’t always get their shots on time.

  • It’s not visible to your partner. No one will be able to see that you got an injection.

  • It can be used immediately after you have a baby and while you’re breastfeeding.

  • Periods may be lighter or stop entirely when you’ve received the shot.

  • It’s temporary. You can stop using it whenever you want to try getting pregnant.
  • The birth control shot does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV. Even if you get the shot, you should use a condom every time you have sex to reduce your chances of getting or spreading STIs.

  • It may cause changes in your period, including unpredictable bleeding.

  • It may cause acne, breast tenderness, headaches, or mood changes.

  • It may change appetite or cause weight gain, especially for people who are already overweight.

  • If you don’t get each shot on schedule, you’re more likely to get pregnant.

  • Long-term use of the shot may lead to lower bone density. But bone density improves after you stop getting the shot.

  • One side effect of the birth control shot is that it may take up to 5 to 6 months after you stop the shot to get pregnant.

  • It may delay the return of monthly periods by up to 6 months after you stop getting the shot.


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© 2020 Kaiser Permanente

*“Birth control shot,” Planned Parenthood,, accessed August 13, 2019.