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The Pill
vs. Depo-Provera

Q. What is the difference between taking birth control pills and getting the birth control shot?

A. Birth control pills need to be taken every day in order to prevent pregnancy. The pill is basically out of your system within 24 hours and that is why it is important to take it every day and at the same time each day. The birth control shot (Depo-Provera) is given every three months in order to prevent pregnancy.

(Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection is the brand name for a 150 mg aqueous suspension of medroxyprogesterone acetate for depot intramuscular injection every 3 months (12–13 weeks). That info is from Pfizer drug company's web page, they are the manufacturer.

Most women who take birth control pills will get their periods every 28 days. Most women who get the shot will stop having periods, or have very light periods after they have been getting the shot for a while. Most often after your second injection you will no lonter get a period.

Both the pills and the shot may cause a slight weight gain (However, Pfizer claims that user's of their product do not gain weight). It is important to see your health care provider and ask for help in selecting which method of birth control is best for you. Ask that person questions if you have them. Think ahead and bring a short list of questions for him or her.

Ask about the safety of Depo-Provera. Remember that condoms are still necessary in order to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Q. Is a lighter period or not period harmful? 

A. The answer is no. (Unless you're trying to get pregnant of course).

When you're not using a hormonal birth control your body builds a lining every month inside your uterus.  This is done to prepare the uterus for a potential pregnancy.  If you don't get pregnant, your body sheds the lining and that's what we call menstruation or your period.

With Depo-Provera, your body doesn't build this lining, or it might build up a very thin one. Therefore, there's little or no lining every month that is shed (your period).  Some women may feel a huge amount of freedom from not having the hassle of having a light period, or no period at all.

Also, Depo-Provera is effective immediately if it is given to you during the first five days of your period or after an abortion.  It is important to make and KEEP your appointment with your health care provider to have your next shot about 11 to 13 weeks after your first shot.  I think 13 is easier to remember and if you get continue to get it regularly on that date, the shot is actually shown to be more effective than the birth control pill. (Probably because some women forget to take their pill daily or at the same time every day).

Depo-Provera does NOT protect from HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.  So it is a good form of birth control for women in a committed relationship.  Of course, you can always use it with a condom if you are getting the shot regularly as a method of birth control. 

Use of Depo-Provera may cause you to lose calcium from your bones.  The longer you use it, the more you are likely to get osteoporosis, or osteopenia.  Let your health care provider know you are getting these injections and you will either take a calcium supplement, or you might be monitored for bone density if you take Depo-Provera for more than two years.

Many women do gain about four to five pounds while taking hormonal birth control methods, or hormonal replacement after menopause. Yes, you can exercise more to eliminate those extra five pounds. Remember, this is something only you can make a decision about.

A contraceptive injection is a good choice for many busy young women.

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