Times have significantly changed from when women on birth control were at high risk of suffering infections from unreliable methods and hormones at perilously high doses. IUDs or Intrauterine devices have undergone redesigning for improved safety. Contraceptive sponges are now almost risk-free. Even condoms have been made safe for all people, going far as protecting users against STDs.
Now, one question remains: Is the injectable birth control safe?
Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DPMA) or better known as Depo is an injectable that can prevent pregnancy for up to 13 weeks or 3 months. Many people refer to this method as “the shot”. For women who want reliable, reversible and safe contraception, then DPMA is the way to go.
How Depo Works
Depo contains progestin, the female hormone. This hormone stops eggs from getting released by ovaries. The drug shall be injected into the buttock muscle or the arm, where it will be slowly absorbed. The effects are known to last up to 13 weeks following the injection.
The Effectiveness of Depo
Depo is considered a very effective birth control option. It guarantees pregnancy prevention at a rate of 99%. However, for the method to work best, women need to be consistent with getting injections, which has to be every after 13 weeks.
The Side Effects of Depoo Menstrual Changes
Menstrual changes are the most common aftermath of getting Depo injections. However, the extent of the changes will not be the same for all women. Spotting and irregular bleeding are to be expected in the first months. Women might have a need for some extra panty liners or sanitary napkins when these happen. However, the bleeding or spotting frequency will eventually lower over time.
After a year of consistently getting injections, the bleeding may completely stop. This is not something to be alarmed about though as it is considered medically safe. Depo injections do not actually turn off menstrual periods. Rather, they simply change bleeding patterns as uterus linings thin down.
o Weight Gain
This is another side effect to expect after getting Depo injections. After a year, recipients may gain a weight of around 5 ½ pounds on the average. This can increase to 8 pounds after a span of 2 years. Some women may even gain much more.
o Bone loss
Studies have found that there is 2-3% of bone loss reported in teenagers after receiving birth control injections for a year. This percentage might seem small, but is happening when bones should actually be strengthening up. As with adult women, teenagers do not retrieve the lost percentages back while under the procedure. For this reason, clinicians do not recommend this for long-term engagement, unless there is no other option adequate for the recipient.
Other side effects include:
o Breast tenderness
o Loss of sex drive
Recipients only get to be free from these aftereffects when the Depo shots eventually wear off.
Depo injections do not have permanent side effects on the ability of women to become pregnant in the future. Nonetheless, it might simply take them a longer time to experience pregnancy after they have stopped with the injections. But of course, there are other factors that come into play when it comes to pregnancy delays. These include age, health and the ability to become pregnant prior to being on birth control.
Knowing Whether or Not Depo is Suitable for You
These injections are effective for birth control and can be safely used by women in general. However, they do not protect one from getting STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV. If you wish protection against these, better opt for the use of male latex or female condom.
Women are discouraged to take the shot if:
o They think they are pregnant or if they are pregnant
o They have abnormal bleeding that remained unevaluated
o They have suspected or known breast cancer
Expert clinicians will also be able to advise on the suitability of this birth control method to women.
In case any of these surfaces following getting injected, recipients must immediately report to their clinicians.
o Severe depression
o Unusually heavy and prolonged bleeding
o Breast lumps
o Severe abdominal and stomach pain
o Yellowing of skin and eyes
Deciding to Halt Depo Usage
Women are allowed to stop using this birth control option any time. Those who want to remain not pregnant after 12 months of not getting shot should consider other contraceptive methods. It is always better to seek professional advice from clinicians regarding this. Getting regular exams and routine healthcare for cancer and STD screening will still be highly recommended.