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.1

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You can get a birth control shot at your medical facility.
  • In the United States, the average cost for each birth control shot is $150. The cost may vary depending on where you live.

  • Kaiser Permanente members may be able to get birth control shots at low or no cost.2
  • 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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© 2019 Kaiser Permanente

1“Birth control shot,” Planned Parenthood, plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-shot/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-shot, accessed August 13, 2019.

2Costs are dependent on your policy terms. For questions about your coverage, please call Member Services or view your benefit coverage documents.