Must-Know Facts About Starting and Stopping Depo-Provera (2023)

Signs of pregnancy after Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone) may include missed period, nausea, breast tenderness, and more. Many people are able to get pregnant around 8 to 10 months after their last Depo-Provera shot.

Depo-Provera, an injectablebirth control method, is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, with shots just four times per years. Because Depo contains progestin, a synthetic progesterone hormone, it can be hard to know when Depo is out of your system, when ovulation will return, and what to expect when you stop taking it.

This article discusses how Depo-Provera is used, including its common side effects. It also provides information about what happens when you stop the injections and consider pregnancy.

Must-Know Facts About Starting and Stopping Depo-Provera (1)

How Does Depo-Provera Affect Your Body?

Depo-Provera is a hormonal birth control method, so your healthcare provider will make sure it's right for you based on your overall health and the findings of tests and an exam. They may include:

  • Blood pressure check
  • Breast exam
  • Abdominal exam
  • Pelvic exam
  • Pap smear
  • Blood work, if relevant

Starting Depo-Provera

When you start Depo-Provera, you should get your shot during the first five days of your period. This ensures you are not pregnant when you get the shot. If you get the shot at any other time in your cycle, you should get a pregnancy test first.

If you receive your first shot during the first five days of your period, Depo-Provera will provide immediate pregnancy protection. You won't need to use a backup birth control method.

When Should You Get a Depo-Provera Shot?

You will need a medical exam before starting Depo-Provera, and you should get your first shot during the first five days of your period. This will ensure immediate pregnancy protection.

Side Effects of Depo-Provera

Before starting Depo-Provera, it is important to discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider to be sure you understand its effects on your body. These may include:

  • Bleeding and spotting, which may be irregular or prolonged
  • Bone density loss, with an increased risk of bone fracture while taking Depo-Provera
  • Weight gain, adding to the importance of healthy lifestyle choices like exercise
  • Depression, which affects about 9% of people who use this form of birth control

You can stop using Depo-Provera at any time by simply not getting the next shot.

Because Depo-Provera may cause bone density loss, you should not use it for more than two years. Discuss other birth control options with your healthcare provider at that time.

Depo-Provera may cause side effects like prolonged bleeding and weight gain. These side effects are reasons why many people stop using Depo-Provera. More serious side effects may also occur.

(Video) Must-Know Facts About Starting and Stopping Depo-Provera

How Long Does It Take to Ovulate After Depo-Provera?

Each Depo-Provera injection lasts about three months. If you decide to get pregnant after stopping Depo-Provera, you will need to plan ahead. The manufacturer says most people who try to get pregnant after using Depo-Provera do so within 18 months after their last shot.

Ovulation is when you release an egg each month and are able to become pregnant. It takes an average of six months or more to regain fertility and begin ovulating after stopping Depo-Provera.

Signs of Ovulation

It will take several months for ovulation to return once you stop taking Depo-Provera. You can watch for signs of ovulation including:

  • Bloating and/or abdominal pain
  • Changes in cervical mucus
  • Changes in your basal body temperature

Apps and at-home ovulation tests can help you to keep track of signs and symptoms, or test for a rise inluteinizing hormone (LH) that occurs right before ovulation.

The 6 Best Basal Body Thermometers for Tracking Your Cycle

Getting Pregnant After Depo-Provera

It can be hard to know when Depo is out of your system. Fertility will return once you've stopped using the injections but it will take roughly seven to 10 months for you to start ovulating.

For most people, getting pregnant after Depo-Provera will take time. You should stop receiving your Depo injections about one year before you want to become pregnant.

It is possible for fertility to return once your last Depo shot has worn off, though, so watch for signs of a possible pregnancy.

When Will You Get Pregnant After Depo-Provera?

Some estimates say 50% of people who stop using Depo-Provera will get pregnant within 10 months, but how long it takes for ovulation to return depends on factors that include weight, age, and the dosage level. One study found the average time was 170 days (five to six months) for people taking the 45 milligram (mg) dose, and 226 days (more than seven months) with a 75 mg dose.

Signs of Pregnancy After Stopping Depo-Provera

You'll want to watch for signs of pregnancy after Depo-Provera injections have stopped. Early signs of pregnancy include:

  • Missed period
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness
  • Frequent urination
  • Mood changes
  • Diet and appetite changes
  • Headaches and nasal congestion

If you suspect you may be pregnant, arrange for an at-home test or check with your healthcare provider to find out if that's the case.

What Are the Early Signs of Pregnancy?

(Video) Going off of Birth Control? Prepare for These Possible Side Effects

When To See a Healthcare Provider

It's a good idea to discuss your plans with a healthcare provider when you are considering pregnancy or stop taking Depo-Provera for another reason, like needing to switch birth control methods.

If you do want to become pregnant, your healthcare provider can help you to plan ahead and build up your overall health with prenatal vitamins, weight loss, smoking cessation, and other steps.

When you've stopped taking Depo-Provera but feel you're still not ovulating, be sure to schedule an appointment. That's especially true if:

  • Yourcycles are still irregulartwo years after your last injection
  • You don’t conceive within 12 months of ovulation returning (or 6 months if you're age 35 or older)
  • You have other risk factors or signs of a possible fertility problem

Can Depo-Provera Cause Infertility?

Taking Depo-Provera does not usually lead to permanent or long-term infertility. It's normal for people taking the shots to not have their periods, and there typically is a delay in the return of ovulation once you've stopped taking the shots.

But the infertility that Depo-Provera causes is a temporary feature of elective birth control. In most cases, the common signs of ovulation return, and infertility does not last more than two years.


Depo-Provera is an injectable birth control method. It is taken four times a year. Before starting Depo-Provera, it is important to have a health exam.

Side effects of this form of birth control include weight gain and spotting or prolonged bleeding. These are some of the reasons why people stop using Depo-Provera. In most cases, though, bleeding will stop after one year.

Stop using Depo-Provera one year before you want to become pregnant.

7 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Academy of Family Physicians. Depo-Provera: An injectable contraceptive.

  2. Spevack E. The long-term health implications of Depo-Provera.Integr Med.2013;12(1):27-34.

  3. Singata-Madliki M, Carayon-Lefebvre d'Hellencourt F, Lawrie TA, Balakrishna Y, Hofmeyr GJ. Effects of three contraceptive methods on depression and sexual function: an ancillary study of the ECHO randomized trial. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2021;154(2):256-262. doi:10.1002/ijgo.13594

  4. Pfizer. Depo-Provera.

  5. Owen M.Physiological signs of ovulation and fertility readily observable by women.Linacre Q. 2013;80(1):17-23. doi:10.1179/0024363912Z.0000000005

  6. Halpern V, Fuchs R, Brache V, Bahamondes L, Miranda MJ, Lendvay A, et al. Suppression of ovulation and pharmacokinetics following subcutaneous administration of various doses of Depo-Provera®: a randomized trial. Contracept X. 2021 Oct 2;3:100070. doi:10.1016/j.conx.2021.100070.

  7. American Society for Reproductive Medicine.Infertility.

Additional Reading

(Video) Pregnancy Tips : Get Pregnant After Depo-Provera

Must-Know Facts About Starting and Stopping Depo-Provera (2)

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.

(Video) What should I know about the Depo Shot?

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What are the facts about stopping Depo-Provera? ›

If a woman wants to stop the Depo Provera she has to wait for it to wear off. In some women, periods can be slow to return after the injections are stopped – sometimes 6 to 12 months. However, more than half will fall pregnant within 12 months and over 90 percent within two years.

What to expect after getting off of Depo-Provera? ›

The reported withdrawal symptoms included: feeling of having a viral infection with fatigue, eye pain, visual disturbance, itching, restlessness, agitation, shaking, nausea and shortness of breath. The reporter refers to internet forums where other women report the same symptoms on stopping Depo-Provera.

What are the rules for Depo-Provera? ›

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 don't, you'll need to use another form of birth control for 1 week.

How long after you stop the Depo shot should your period start? ›

After stopping Depo Provera injections, women may not begin menstrual bleeding (periods) from 9 to 24 months. The majority of women usually resume within 12 months.

What are the disadvantages of Depo? ›

Side Effects of the Depo-Provera Shot
  • Uneven menstrual periods or no periods at all.
  • Headaches.
  • Nervousness.
  • Depression.
  • Dizziness.
  • Acne.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Weight gain.
Mar 12, 2023

Why shouldn't Depo be used long term? ›

WARNING: LOSS OF BONE MINERAL DENSITY Women who use Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection may lose significant bone mineral density. Bone loss is greater with increasing duration of use and may not be completely reversible.

Why was Depo-Provera banned? ›

Questions have been raised about the size effects of this drug, and it was banned in the U.S. in 1978 because the authorities were seriously concerned about the possible carcinogenic effects of the drug. In Britain, Depo-Provera is only permitted in exceptional cases and under strictly controlled conditions.

Do you lose weight after stopping Depo? ›

Once you stop taking birth control, you may notice that you drop a pound or two within a few weeks as fluid retention decreases, but it is unlikely that you will lose a substantial amount of weight, if any at all.

What are the effects of coming off the Depo injection? ›

Disadvantages: your periods may change and become irregular, heavier, shorter, lighter or stop altogether – this can carry on for some months after you stop the injections. it does not protect you against STIs. there can be a delay of up to 1 year before your periods return to normal and you can become pregnant.

In which condition Depo-Provera should be avoided? ›

The use of Depo-Provera CI is contraindicated in the following conditions: Known or suspected pregnancy or as a diagnostic test for pregnancy. Active thrombophlebitis, or current or past history of thromboembolic disorders, or cerebral vascular disease [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

What is the FDA warning for Depo-Provera? ›

Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate), injected I.M. once every 3 months for contraception, will now carry the FDA's strongest black-box warning. The label change is a response to findings that prolonged use of the drug can cause significant bone density loss.

Who should not use Depo-Provera in female patients? ›

Women who have or have had a history of breast cancer should not use hormonal contraceptives, including Depo-Provera CI, because breast cancer may be hormonally sensitive [see Contraindications (4)]. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer should be monitored with particular care.

How do I know when Depo is out of my system? ›

There are three ways to know if your fertility has finally returned after stopping Depo-Provera: having a regular menstrual cycle again, getting positive results on an ovulation predictor test, and having ovulation detected on a basal body temperature chart.

Does Depo cause infertility? ›

Does the 'Depo' contraceptive injection affect fertility? The short answer: Contraceptive injections can have lingering contraceptive effects for up to 1.5 years but do not affect long-term future fertility.

Are there any lawsuit against Depo-Provera? ›

Many Depo-Provera patients have already come forward and filed claims against Pfizer. These product liability lawsuits allege that the company was aware of the inherent risks of their products, but failed to adequately warn patients and healthcare providers.

Why shouldn't you use Depo for more than 2 years? ›

The longer you are on Depo-Provera the more calcium you may lose. This increases the risk of your bones weakening if you use Depo-Provera continuously for a long time (for more than 2 years). The calcium may not return completely once you stop using Depo-Provera.

What are the pros and cons of Depo-Provera? ›

Depo-Provera is a very effective form of birth control, and people who use it don't have to remember to take a daily pill. Some people also experience very light or even absent periods while using Depo-Provera. Some of Depo-Provera's disadvantages include weight gain, irregular bleeding, and bone loss.

Why does Depo cause weight gain? ›

A possible explanation for weight gain among adolescent Depo-Provera users is that the hormone directly stimulates the brain's hunger centers, thus increasing appetite. The hormone also interferes with serotonin, which influences satiety and stabilizes moods.

What medicine cancels out the depo shot? ›

Neither antibiotics nor antiseizure medicines reduce Depo-Provera's effectiveness. The only drug which reduces its effectiveness is aminoglutethimide (Cytadren), used to suppress adrenal function in some people with Cushing syndrome.

Why was Depo recalled? ›

Nonetheless, doubts about its safety and concerns over misuse prompted the FDA to deny approval of Depo-Provera as a contraceptive in 1978 and 1983. The FDA approved its use only for treatment of endometrial or renal cancer.

Is Depo banned in the US? ›

PIP: FDA refused to license Depo-Provera for use as a contraceptive in the U.S. However, the ban has wider reaching effects since U.S. law prohibits the export of drugs not approved by FDA.

Does Depo cause belly fat? ›

Depo-Provera (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate , or DMPA) is an effective and relatively easy form of birth control. It does appear to cause weight gain for many women, though. 1 Weight gain is often cited as the reason women stop using the shots. DMPA can change body composition and increase fat mass.

Why do my breasts hurt after stopping Depo? ›

LW: Another common experience that disturbs women as they stop taking Depo-Provera is extremely sore breasts. What causes this? Ask Jerilynn: This is directly caused by the “estrogen overdrive” as the body tries to recover from the suppression caused by Depo.

Which birth control causes weight loss? ›

Unfortunately, there are no birth control methods that actively cause weight loss. However, certain birth control options, such as the birth control pill called Yasmin, have diuretic properties, which may cause you to lose water weight (Apter, 2017).

How do you balance hormones after Depo? ›

6 Natural Ways to Balance Hormones Post Birth Control
  1. Nutrition. Maintaining a whole foods diet- high in fresh produce, macronutrients, and fiber is necessary for hormone production, stress response, and the return of ovulation. ...
  2. Herbs. ...
  3. Supplements. ...
  4. Stress Reduction. ...
  5. Sleep. ...
  6. Exercise.
Aug 19, 2022

Can stopping the depo shot cause depression? ›

The women who stopped using DMPA during the study had higher levels of depression immediately before or immediately after they discontinued DMPA than they had before starting DMPA. Levels of depression in this group dropped to those observed in non-DMPA users within several months of the discontinuation of DMPA.

Does Depo-Provera mess with hormones? ›

Briefly, Depo-Provera suppresses a woman's own hormones to near menopause levels. Post-Depo, the body works hard to regain reproductive function by overproducing estrogen. Because hypothalamic incoordination delays the return to ovulation, progesterone is not produced to counteract estrogen.

Is Depo-Provera off the market? ›

This is a medication that is being taken off the market that affects gender, it's a gender-based decision. It doesn't impact anyone else except for women.” A spokesperson for Pfizer says clinicians should “reserve supplies” for “vulnerable populations” as production comes to a halt.

Is Depo-Provera still on the market? ›

Although Depo-Provera has not been approved for use in the US, Upjohn manufactures the contraceptive in Belgium and France and estimates that more than a million women in 80 countries use the contraceptive. DMPA is still approved as adjunctive therapy for metastatic endometrial carcinoma and renal carcinoma.

What year did the FDA approve Depo-Provera? ›

The FDA approved Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive, in 1992 on the condition that its manufacturer conduct a post-approval study on the risk ofosteoporosis. Then in 2004, the agency revised the drug's labeling to include a boxed (i.e. Black Box) Warning on the risk ofosteoporosis.

Which hormones are affected by depo? ›

Depo-Provera is a well-known brand name for medroxyprogesterone acetate, a contraceptive injection that contains the hormone progestin. Depo-Provera is given as an injection every three months. Depo-Provera typically suppresses ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg.

Does depo have high estrogen? ›

Depo-Provera does not contain estrogen. It prevents pregnancy by: Preventing ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovary) Thickening cervical mucus which prevents sperm from entering the uterus.

Does the depo shot cause low estrogen? ›

DMPA (Depo-Provera) works by suppressing ovulation and ovarian production of estrogen. This reduction of estrogen levels has been shown to reduce bone mass when used over the long term. In adult women, this bone mass loss can be recovered when women stop using DMPA and their estrogen levels are restored.

How can I detox my body from birth control naturally? ›

While birth control cleanses may not be necessary, there are ways to help ease the transition away from hormonal birth control. Diamond recommends eating a healthy diet, getting a good night's sleep and enough exercise, as well as managing stress and limiting alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.

Are you more fertile after Depo? ›

Chances of pregnancy are still great, even if it may take a little more time. Pregnancy rates at the one year mark after stopping depo are over 80%, and at the two year mark they're over 90% (which is the normal fertility rate).

Can I sue Depo for getting pregnant? ›

Both state and federal laws allow people to sue companies if their birth control products fail to work as intended. Some of these cases are categorized as “wrongful birth” lawsuits.

Does anything cancel out the depo shot? ›

Neither antibiotics nor antiseizure medicines reduce Depo-Provera's effectiveness. The only drug which reduces its effectiveness is aminoglutethimide (Cytadren), used to suppress adrenal function in some people with Cushing syndrome.

What are the chances of getting pregnant after stopping Depo-Provera? ›

While the levels of Depo-Provera after 90 days may not be high enough to be considered effective for pregnancy prevention, they may still be too high to get pregnant. Within 10 months of the last injection, 50% of women who discontinue Depo-Provera will get pregnant.

Can I get pregnant after stopping Depo shot? ›

While you can definitely get pregnant three to four months after a depo shot wears off, not everyone does. It can sometimes take up to ten months or more to ovulate again, and it can take up to 18 months for normal periods to restart.

What does Depo do to your body? ›

Depo-Provera is given as an injection every three months. Depo-Provera typically suppresses ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg. It also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the egg.

How long should you be off birth control before trying for a baby? ›

If you're taking a combination pill (those that have estrogen and progestin), most women's cycles return to normal within 1-3 months, making pregnancy possible quickly. Most women are able to get pregnant within a year of stopping the pill.


1. What you need to know about injections
(MSI Reproductive Choices)
2. When do you Start the Birth Control Pill | Tips for How to Correctly Start Birth Control Pills
(Diana In The Pink)
3. 5 Ways To Naturally Balance Hormones After Depo Shot
(AskAwayHealth - Simple Health Information)
4. Birth Control 101: Everything you need to know about the pill
(In The Know)
5. Depo-Provera Shot Side Effects, Schedule & More
(Cleveland Clinic)
6. What you need to know about the oral contraceptive pill
(MSI Reproductive Choices)


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