The shot is just what it sounds like—a shot that keeps you from getting pregnant.

The shot is super effective—as long as you get each shot on time.
The most common ones are irregular bleeding and increased appetite, which can lead to weight gain.
You can get the shot for free with insurance or at a health clinic
You need to head to the health care provider or clinic for each shot.
Perfect if you don't want to think about your birth control every day.
You have to go for a shot every three months.

The shot is just what it sounds like—a shot that keeps you from getting pregnant. Once you get it, your birth control is covered for three full months—there’s nothing else you have to do. Some people call the shot Depo, short for Depo-Provera. The shot contains progestin, a hormone that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens your cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Some teens say they don’t want the shot because they’re afraid of needles. But what’s a little prick compared to a pregnancy?

No (pregnancy) worries for three months.

If you’re the kind of person who has trouble remembering to take a pill every day, the shot might be a good option. You only need to remember to do something once every three months instead of every day. You can visit a health care provider to get your shot or try the new SubQ Depo version at home, which is a shot you can give yourself.

Total privacy.

No one can tell when you’re on Depo. There’s no telltale packaging and nothing you need to do before you have sex.

Yes, there are needles involved.

If you’re really scared of needles, then Depo is not for you. Just think, though; it’s a single shot and you’re done for three months! Weigh the options.

It’s a love/hate thing.

Depo is one of those methods that some people LOVE and some people HATE. Check out the user videos for more on that.

The pregnancy question.

You can get pregnant as soon as 12 weeks following the last injection, though for some people it can take around nine months for fertility to return. The bottom line? Don’t take any chances. If you’re not ready for a baby, protect yourself as soon as you stop taking Depo.

There’s not much you have to do to use the shot—just make sure to keep regular appointments with your health care provider. You go to the clinic, have an exam and get an injection. Every three months, you go in for another injection. Easy-breezy.

Make sure to discuss the timing of your period and the shot with your provider, because that’ll help determine how soon after the shot you’ll be protected. Also, it’s really important to get your shots on time. If you’re more than two weeks late for an injection, you may have to get a pregnancy test before the shot. We can set you up with handy reminders so you’ll never forget an appointment.

Tips and tricks

Spotting improves with time. So give it a chance—two or three periods, which is six to nine months in Depo time.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, if you have health insurance, chances are good that you’ll be able to get this method with no out-of-pocket cost. Tricare, the military insurance, covers this method at Tricare-authorized providers. Medicaid also covers it.


  • With insurance – Free under most plans.
  • With Medicaid – Free.
  • Without insurance – Many clinics offer this method for free or at a very low cost.


You might still need condoms.

Because Depo is a good pregnancy protector, some people drop condoms too soon. Remember that Depo doesn’t prevent STIs. Only stop using condoms after you and your partner have been tested and have talked about your STI statuses.

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every birth control method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friends experience.

The Positive

  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Super private—no one will know unless you tell them
  • You don’t have to remember to take it every day
  • Might give you shorter, lighter periods—or no periods at all
  • Your birth control is taken care of for three months at a time
  • Can be used by people who can’t take estrogen
  • It’s very effective at preventing pregnancy…if you get the shots on time
  • Can be used while breastfeeding

The Negative*

The most common complaints:

  • Irregular bleeding, especially for the first 6–12 months. That could mean longer, heavier periods or spotting in between periods.
  • Change in appetite or weight gain. It’s common for some teens to gain around five pounds in the first year, while other teens gain nothing.

Less common side effects:

  • Change in sex drive
  • Depression
  • Hair loss or more hair on your face or body
  • Nervousness or dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sore breasts

There’s no way to stop the side effects of Depo—you can’t go back in time and not get the shot. If you still feel uncomfortable after having two or more shots in a row, switch methods and stay protected. You’re worth it.

*For a very small number of people, there are risks of serious side effects.

Don’t take our word for it. Check out these videos to hear people talk about their experiences with Depo. And be sure to ask your health care provider which method is best for you.

Kelly, 28, the shot


Elektra, 21, the shot


Alyssa, 20, the shot


Anthony, 27, the shot

Expert dirt: “Effective if you keep up with your appointments. If you like the shot, check out the implant, too.”