Getting Pregnant After Depo Provera Shots

Depo Shot

The Depo Provera birth control injection is taken every three months, or twelve weeks, to prevent pregnancy.
The Depo Provera birth control injection is taken every three months, or twelve weeks, to prevent pregnancy. | Source

Depo Provera

Are you considering the Depo Provera injections as a form of birth control? Are you already on Depo Provera or have stopped it and wondering what it is doing to your body? Read on to find out more about this birth control and the long term effects it may have on your body.

What is the Depo Shot ?

If you were to conduct an online search on the birth control option Depo Provera, what would you find? People asking about side affects? How about the thousands of women searching for answers concerning pregnancy during or after getting the shot?

I am one of those women. I had only one Depo shot, and I was searching for answers I did not have after stopping the shot. Here I am going to share my research about the Depo shot and how it affects getting pregnant in the future.

Depo Provera, or DMPA, is a form of birth control given as an injection. It contains mexdroxyprogesterone acetate, a synthetic form of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. It prevents pregnancy for up to three months by stopping ovulation, thickening the cervical mucus, and changing the lining of the uterus so a pregnancy can't happen. The failure rate for this kind of birth control is around 0.3%, meaning that only three in one thousand women may get pregnant while using it.

A woman seeking to take this form of birth control should take the first shot within five days after the beginning of a normal menstrual cycle. For women getting the shot after giving birth, it is recommended that they wait a few weeks before getting the shot. Because a normal menstrual cycle may not occur for a while after giving birth, a health care provider might give a pregnancy test to ensure there is no pregnancy before administering the shot.

This form of birth control is for those who wish not to get pregnant at all or who wish not to get pregnant for a long while after giving birth. The recommended use for this shot is no more than two years, unless no other form of birth control works or is acceptable, due to the fact that it may cause bones to weaken from calcium loss.

What is Progesterone ?

Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that helps with ovulation and menstrual cycles. When a woman is about to ovulate, or release an egg from the ovaries, progesterone is secreted to help prepare the uterus to accept the egg if it is fertilized and pregnancy occurs. A pregnancy would help keep the progesterone levels in the body high to prevent further ovulation. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop and a menstrual cycle begins.

The synthetic progesterone in Depo Provera works by keeping the progesterone levels in the body at a higher level, essentially making the body think it's pregnant and preventing further ovulation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Depo Shot

99% effective
not effective against STDs
protection lasts for three months
loss of bone minerals, causing osteoperosis
less expensive than other birth control
quarterly doctors visits
no need to remember it, other than dr. visits
weight gain
chance of not having periods while on shot
effects last for a while even after last shot
may prevent uterine fibroids
many unpleasant side effects
If you are considering Depo Provera as a form of birth control, be aware of the advantages and disadvantages!

What is Depo Provera?

Depo Injection

Before you had the shot, did you read all there is out there about Depo Provera?

  • Yes, I made sure this was the right choice for me.
  • I read the pamphlet the doctor gave me, but that is all.
  • I glanced at some reading material.
  • No. I just got the shot!
See results without voting

Side Effects of Depo Shot

Depo Provera has many unpleasant side effects, a few of which are also found in other forms of birth control:

  • irregular bleeding, heavy bleeding, or no bleeding at all
  • weight gain
  • headaches
  • abdominal discomfort
  • hair growth or loss
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • breast tenderness
  • acne
  • fluid retention or bloating

Weight gain is one of the side effects that bothers women the most. In fact, for every year a woman is on Depo Provera, she gains additional weight, nearly doubling the weight gain from the initial year.

A combination of some of these side effects--namely fatigue, lack of bleeding (amenorrhea), breast tenderness, and bloating--can make some women feel like they are pregnant. Many women search online, trying to see if others are experiencing the same thing, which many women are.

Serious side effects include anaphylactic reactions (severe allergic reactions) and ectopic pregnancy.

Periods on the Depo Shot

After the first Depo shot, many women will experience irregular or unpredictable bleeding as the body gets used to the synthetic hormone. For many women on the Depo shot, periods will be light and often disappear after the first few months on the shot (that is called amenorrhea , or the absence of a period). Other women may experience heavy bleeding, which may last only for the length of a period or may last for weeks on end.

Can You Get Pregnant After Only One Depo Shot?

Yes, you can get pregnant after only one Depo shot. It's just a matter of when you might get pregnant.

Some women, if they miss their second Depo shot, can get pregnant right away. For others, it can take months to conceive. For me personally, it took 18 months after only one Depo shot to conceive.

Can You Get Pregnant on the Depo Shot?

Even though the Depo Provera shot is meant to prevent pregnancy, there still is a chance you could become pregnant while on the shot. Here are some possibilities of how the Depo shot may fail:

  • the first shot was not given within the first 5 days of a normal period and you have had intercourse before the shot (meaning you were already pregnant at the time the shot was administered)
  • you had unprotected intercourse within the first month of the shot, before it was absolutely effective in your body
  • you did not get the next shot within 12 weeks

For reasons unknown, a few women each year get pregnant while on the shot, even after being on the shot for longer than the first three months and getting it at the recommended times.

Just remember: the only 100% birth control method is no intercourse at all. All other forms are 99% or lower. If you want to prevent pregnancy while on the shot, use a backup method like a condom or spermicide.

If you do become pregnant on the shot, stop taking the shot immediately and contact your health care provider. There is little or no increased risk of birth defects, yet in some countries it is reported that babies conceived while their mothers were on the shot may have a lower birth rate.

Stopping the Depo Shot

After experiencing the side effects of Depo Provera or wanting to become pregnant, many women choose to stop getting the shots. To do so, contact your health care provider and ask to cancel your next shot. You may be asked if you would like to consider any other birth control or if you need any more information.

When you stop taking the shot, it may take several weeks to several months to have a regular period again. You may once again experience irregular bleeding and abnormal periods until the hormone is out of your system. Most women may not experience ovulation for approximately 6-9 months after stopping the shot, while others may get pregnant soon after stopping the shot. If you want to stop the shot yet still don't want to become pregnant, it's best to use some other form of birth control.

How Long After the Depo Shot Can You Get Pregnant?

As mentioned above, regular periods may not return for several weeks to several months. On average, most women will not ovulate for approximately 6-9 months, and some sources say that time frame may even be 6-18 months.

Two things may affect how long it takes for you to get pregnant after stopping the shot: how long you took the shots and how consistent you were with taking them. Few women can get pregnant immediately after taking the shot. For many others, pregnancy doesn't occur for months or even years after stopping the shot. In my personal experience, it is taking longer than a year to conceive, as I have seen in some sources to be true for some women.

How to Get Pregnant After Depo Shot

If you would like to get pregnant after taking the Depo shot, here are some things you should do:

  • track your periods and make note when they become regular
  • track your ovulation once your periods become regular or take an ovulation test
  • have intercourse every other day from the time you stop your period until your next period, especially around ovulation
  • take prenatal vitamins to give your body what it needs to support a pregnancy

Above all, be patient. It may take a while to become pregnant after stopping the shot.

Depo Detox Diet

Some women, after stopping the Depo shot, turn to a detox diet to help their bodies get rid of the synthetic progesterone lingering in their bodies. The detox diet helps to flush the synthetic progesterone from the liver and may help with becoming pregnant.

Note: If you are considering one of these detox diets, first consult your doctor. Some of the herbs may not be suitable for you or may be dangerous for an underlying condition you may have. You also should wait a few weeks to allow your body to rid itself of the hormone and to heal.

A detox diet may include the following:

  • a lot of water
  • fresh fruits, vegetables and their juices
  • herbal teas
  • dandelion root
  • milk thistle
  • tumeric

Again, be sure to consult your doctor before going on any kind of detox diet.

Depo Provera Shots

As you can see, the Depo Provera shots are a long term birth control option that may not be for everyone. Make sure to make an informed decision if you are choosing this shot as your birth control.


More by this Author

Comments 142 comments

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 15 months ago from United States Author

Sarah, it may be time to talk to a doctor. Have you been testing for ovulation with a kit? If not, try that first, and then speak with your doctor. Best wishes!

Sarah 15 months ago

Hi can someone help me i was one the depo injection for no more then 6 months i came off dec 2o13 my peroids came back April 2014 there been back every month 28 29 days between them still not ovulation is this normal i really want a baby

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 17 months ago from United States Author

anna, unfortunately, it is. It takes quite a while for periods to return for some people. I suggest a visit to your doctor. Best wishes!

anna 17 months ago

Hi im 34 I came off the depo 12 months ago but haven't had a period at all yet is this normal

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

precious, if you get the shot again in October on schedule, then you should be protected from pregnancy. It is completely normal to still get your period while on the shot. They may become abnormal or stop completely, but that is because of the hormones. If you are trying to get pregnant, then you should not get the next shot and wait about three normal cycles before trying to conceive. Best wishes!

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

yoliz, as I am not a doctor, I can't comment on not having a menstrual cycle for so long. While it's possible that it may take longer for you to conceive after being on birth control for so long, I don't believe you would be completely infertile. Birth control pills can regulate cycles, so yes, they may help. I highly suggest speaking with your doctor about your concerns. Best wishes!

precious 2 years ago

I had my first shot on the 5th of August and ihave to get my second one on 29October problem is am still getting periods bt recently my periods have become normal are there any chances of getting pregnant please help

yoliz 2 years ago

Hi, after i had my daughter (may 2007) i decided to get mirena IUD for five years, after those five years i tried Implanon(may 2012) on my left arm for 2 years and then after i got it removed that same day i got depo shot (may2014) So basically ive been on different types of birth control for 7 years and i haven't had a period since giving birth to my daughter. I was supposed to get another shot back in August 2014 but i decided to take a break from all the added hormones before trying to conceive. My question is, is it normal and healthy for me not to have a menstrual cycle for so long? And is it true that some women can become infertile if they're on birth control for years like i have? Also i heard that taking birth control pills may help regulate periods, would you recommend something like this in my case?

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

NickNack427, to my knowledge, there is no way to speed it up on your own. I highly suggest speaking with your doctor if you only have two months. Best wishes!

NickNack427 2 years ago

I had only one shot April 17. It expired July 10th. I want to ttc but I haven't so much as spotted. I'm trying herbal supplements and so far all they've done is stop the depo withdrawal. It's so frustrating because the hubby leaves for Afghanistan in two months. We want to be pregnant before then. Is there anyway to speed up the process.

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

MrsLaster, if you're not sure if you're ovulating, you should try an ovulation kit. You would use one from days 9 of your cycle until about day 14 or so to see when/if you ovulate. The tests indicate when you are most likely to be ovulating (which is when you should have intercourse). I used them myself and found them to be very helpful. You can also consult with your doctor to see if you are ovulating if you do not get results from the tests. Best wishes!

MrsLaster 2 years ago


I was on the depo shot for 6 months (2 months total)...Before that, I had never been on any type of birth control before in life. I am 32 years old. I have always had a regular menstrual cycle. My last injection was November 2012. My periods returned in August 2013 and have been regular ever since. My husband and I have decided to try for baby #3 (last one) and I have yet to get pregnant. we've been actively trying since Nov. 2013. I am wondering if I am ovulating at all. What advice can you share to help in this situation??!! I'm all ears!! Thanks!!

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

Sarah, yes, it could still be from the effects of the shot. Your body may not be regulated yet and you may still have irregular periods. It is possible, however, that if you are trying to become pregnant, that the missed period is an indication of that. At this point, you should be able to take a test to find out, or you can speak with your doctor to see what's going on. Best wishes!

Sarah 2 years ago

I came off the injection Dec 2013 had my 1st period 26th April then 2nd one on the 30th May but missed June is this normal I'm trying to become pregnant

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

precious, being that it has only been 6 months, it's possible that your body hasn't regulated itself yet. I suggest speaking with your doctor about this, especially if you are trying to have a baby. He or she can help you find ways to regulate your cycle and improve your chances of conceiving, if that's what your goal is. Best wishes!

precious 2 years ago

I've been on Depo for two and a half year and my last shot was on November last year and till now i haven't had my period back.

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

Anna, you're still within the 6-18 months since stopping your last shot, so I'd say this is normal, but if you have been trying for the past few months and you haven't had any success, it's time to speak with your doctor. In my personal experience, it took more than a year for me to conceive, so I know how frustrating it can be to wait. Since you have a history of miscarriage, you should speak with your doctor about what's going on. As far as increasing your chances, you are doing the right thing by taking a prenatal vitamin. Also try to have intercourse starting on the 8th-9th day of your cycle and continue to do so until about the 15th day of your cycle to increase your chances. Other than that, your doctor will know better how to help you. Best wishes!

Anna 2 years ago

My last shot was July of 1213 and my periods have been regular since October. I have been taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid. I had I miscarriage in 2011 and went on the shot a little after that but didn't ever get it that regular. Should I worry about not conceiving yet or is it perfectly normal and is there anything else I can do to help my chances of conceiving soon ?

ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 2 years ago from United States Author

lora, I can't give you a definite answer on that, but it seems according to the time frame that you provided that the Depo might be starting to clear out from your system, allowing things to go back to normal. Keep in mind, though, that though things may seem regular again, it could take longer to conceive. I hope it doesn't take too long for you! Best wishes!

lora 2 years ago

I had my first and only shot on dec 6, i was supposed to get another one on feb 28 and I missed because my husband and I are trying to conceive. I had spotting after stopping depo, then in april 4 i got my first period it lasted a week. On may 3 i had clear stretchy discharge and white discharge and on may 5 i got my period again is been 5 days with my period and its going away. Does this means everything is normal again?

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article