Family PACT

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All about the Birth Control Shot

The Birth Control Shot has a hormone in it to keep
you from getting pregnant.

The shot has a hormone that keeps the woman's eggs from leaving
her ovaries. It also thickens the mucus at the opening of the
uterus. That way the man's sperm cannot get inside.

Department of Health Care Services Family PACT logo 
Birth Control Shot You need a shot every 12 weeks.

How does the Birth Control Shot work?

You must go to a health care provider to get the shot. This
shot keeps the hormone in your body at the level needed to
keep you from getting pregnant.

If the first shot is given by the fifth day of your period, it
starts to work right away. If you get the first shot after the
fifth day of your period, use condoms as a backup method
of birth control for the first week.

The shot keeps working for 12 weeks. You must go back to
your provider every 12 weeks for a new shot.

How is the Shot given?

A health care provider gives you the shot
in the hip or arm. You may have some
soreness where the shot was given.

Your Family PACT provider can help
you decide if the shot is right for you. 

How well does the Shot work?

The shot works very well to prevent

Only about 6 women out of 100 who
use the shot for a year get pregnant.

What do some women like about    
using the Shot?

  • It lasts for 12 weeks at a time.
  • You can use this method without
    others knowing it.
  • Your periods may be less painful.
  • You may not get your period at all.
Clinician preparing shot

A health care provider gives you the shot in the hip or arm.

What do some women dislike about it?

  • It causes changes in your periods.
  • You may have other side effects that will last at
    least 12 weeks - until the hormone wears off.
  • You have to go back every 12 weeks to get
    another shot.
  • Some women may gain weight with the shot.


What about side effects of the

All women who use the shot have a
change in their menstrual bleeding.

  • Your periods may not be at the same
    time each month.
  • You may have spotting between
  • Your periods may happen less often
    but last longer.

Most women stop having periods after
using the shot for 12 months. This is not

There are other side effects with the shot:

  • You may feel tired and have sore
    breasts and nausea. Most of the
    time, this goes away after two months.
  • Some women may gain weight after
    they start to use the shot. This may be
    more likely in women who are already
    overweight. Six months after you start
    using the shot, your provider may
    weigh you to see if there has been a
  • Some women may have headaches, or
    feel nervous, depressed, or dizzy.
    Other may have a higher or lower sex

Some side effects may not go away until
the shot wears off. This could take 3 or 4
months or longer after your last shot.

If you have any problems, talk to your Family
PACT provider. There may be something
that can be done to help bleeding problems.
For other side effects, you will have to wait
until the shot wears off to feel better. You may
need to choose another kind of birth control.

The Birth Control Shot will not protect you
from HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or other
infections that people get from having sex.
Use condoms (for men or women) when you
have sex to help protect yourself from
these infections.

What if I am late for my next Shot?

If you are 3 or more weeks late for your
next shot, you must use a back-up method
(like condoms) until you get your next shot,
and for 7 days after you get the next shot.

If you are late for your shot and have had
sex with no method, use Emergency
Contraceptive (EC) pills to prevent pregnancy.      

Are there any other problems?

If you want to get pregnant after you quit
using the shot, it may take 4 to 12 months
to get pregnant.

Women who use the shot for a long time
may lose strength in their bones. In most
women, bone strength returns to normal
after they stop the method. To keep your
bone strength, it is important to:

  • Get plenty of exercise.
  • Eat foods high in calcium, such as milk
    and greens.
  • Take calcium pills or use antacids with

Women who are breastfeeding can have the
shot starting 6 weeks after childbirth. No
harmful effects have been seen in breastfed

It may not be safe for all women.

Talk to your Family PACT provider about any
health problems you have. For example, if
you have:

  • Breast cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Vaginal bleeding for no reason
  • Had liver problems

Also tell your provider if you have migraine
headaches, depression, bone disease, or

Watch for these warning signs.

Call your provider right away if you have:

  • Sudden headaches, or repeated and
    painful headaches
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Depression
  • Severe lower abdominal pain
  • Redness, pain, itching, or bleeding where
    you got your shot
© 2012 Department of Health Care Services, Office of Family Planning. All Rights Reserved. Revised 2017                              
For additional copies, go to:
OF2602 BC Shot ENG