Viva logo

Birth Control Shot Side Effects

by Amanda Stamper 4 years ago in health

Before beginning or changing up your birth control method, be sure to learn the birth control shot side effects.

By now you likely know how birth control works, but did you know there was a birth control shot? Both birth control pills and the birth control shot are highly effective and safe methods of preventing unplanned pregnancies, but most people are probably unfamiliar with the side effects of the shot form. That's why whatever form of birth control you choose deserves serious consideration so you can make the optimal choice for you.

It’s vitally important that you come to a choice that feels healthy and natural for the type of lifestyle you plan on leading. However, you should keep in mind that you can swap them without affecting your fertility or your risk of getting pregnant, as long as it’s done with the consultation of a doctor. So, relax, nothing you decide is going to be permanent, but it'd be nice to save a later headache.

The birth control shot, or depo provera, is a hormonal injection that prevents any unplanned pregnancy for three months at a time. The shot works very similarly to the pill, it prevents ovulation and increases the mucus buildup around the opening of the cervix. When you receive the shot correctly and as directed, it has about a 99 percent chance of working the way you hope it will.

To keep the shot fresh and working at optimal effectiveness, women should get the shot every three months as directed by their doctor. Even if you don't take it exactly in that window it will still work pretty well (about 90 percent) at preventing pregnancy, but getting the shot every 12 weeks is ideal.

The birth control shot, like birth control pills, doesn’t protect you against STDs, and if you are looking to get pregnant anytime in the near future, the pill might be the better choice. After a regiment of depo provera, it's likely that you won't be able to conceive for up to ten months —things to know when getting off birth control.

So, you're probably asking: What are the birth control shot side effects? Read on to help make a better decision about your reproductive future.

Change in Appetite

A relatively minor one of the birth control shot side effects is a change in appetite. In more severe cases, there can be substantial weight gain, but it's generally thought that this symptom only is present for the first few months.

Weight gain is a common concern for many women who are looking to start hormonal forms of birth control — pill included. Most studies will tell you that birth control doesn't cause weight gain, but there are horror stories that may scare some women off. This is often temporary and is the result of mostly water retention, not actual sustained weight gain. Don't worry, it's highly unlikely you're actually getting fatter.

Irregular Periods

Since the the shot works by introducing different hormones into your system, it can affect your menstrual cycle a bit, and it can definitely be one of the birth control shot side effects. Some ladies may have lighter bleeding, and others may end up skipping their periods entirely. This doesn't mean it's not working.

There could be a host of other reasons you're having irregular periods, don't just let your mind jump to the worst case scenario.

Bleeding and Spotting

Depo provera delivers a high dose of the hormone progestin. Progestin is a synthetic version of progesterone, which is something that naturally occurs in the body. Irregular bleeding is the most common birth control shot side effects. For most women this side effect will go away over time as your body gets more acclimated to this form of birth control.

About 70 percent of all women on the birth control shot will experience episodes of unexpected bleeding during the first year they use it.


One of the more mild of the birth control shot side effects is nausea. While uncomfortable for a short period of time, it's unlikely that nausea will occur for much longer than the first few weeks.

Actual throwing up is pretty rare, but if it does occur for a long period of time, contact your health care provider.

Change in Sex Drive/Mood

It's possible that the shot could mess with your sex drive, as well as your overall mood. While this is often mild, it is possible to have thoughts of harming yourself, obviously one of the more serious of the birth control shot side effects. The sex drive isn't as serious, and it should level off and return to normal sooner rather than later.

Keep in mind hormones can cause mood swings, and this has to do with hormones affecting the chemistry of the brain. Until you totally level off, it's not that uncommon for your mood to be influenced by the birth control shot. This should all pass in no time.

Weakness and Fatigue

One of the birth control shot side effects is feeling tired, non-motivated and an overall body fatigue. It can cause this by messing with the testosterone in your body, causing you to become weak, tired, and possibly even uninterested in sex.

Sometimes this can be a sign of a more underlying factor and not the birth control itself, but contact your health care provider to be sure.

Acne and Headaches

Some women may find that the depo provera can worsen their headaches. The reduction in estrogen that comes menstrual bleeding may put your body into a sort of hormonal withdrawal — which can cause your head to pound.

Not a very serious issue as far as birth control shot side effects go, but increased acne has been reported in some women. The Progestin in the shot can promote acne and worsen breakouts on occasion. Acne is usually caused by fluctuation in hormone levels, but usually it's nothing to worry about long term.

Overall the birth control shot is very safe to use, and a great alternative for those who don't want to remember to take a pill eveyday.


Amanda Stamper

Works in real estate but would rather be working on political campaigns.

Receive stories by Amanda Stamper in your feed
Amanda Stamper
Read next: Call Me B**** One More Time

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2021 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.