Coming off Depo Shot, After Effects

This pic is located at http://www.fwhc.org/birth-control/bcdepo.htm and this site is very informative, the best I found.
This pic is located at http://www.fwhc.org/birth-control/bcdepo.htm and this site is very informative, the best I found.

Depo Provera Information

Depo Provera is a form of birth control that is injected into the body once every 3 months and is a hormone injection. The way it works is to basically trick the body into thinking its pregnant already.

Depo stops the ovaries from releasing eggs as well as causing the cervical mucus to thicken and the uterine lining change so as to make it harder for sperm to enter or survive in the uterus. All of these changes prevent fertilisation.

There are a few side effects that must be considered when considering this as a form of birth control. The most serious side effect is a loss of bone density that can occur over prolonged use. I spent many years on the depo injection and have not experienced a loss of bone density so it seems that while a serious concern it is not a certainty. I may well have been consuming a large enough amount of calcium and I was not still growing when I started it (I was in my mid 20's).

The next side effect that most women need to think about is the possibility for weight gain. I did not notice any appreciable weight gain but it does seem the most common side effect. The next most common (it seems) is the decrease and eventual loss of periods. I found this effect to be wonderful as my periods were intensely painful and triggered sever depression that could leave me suicidal. I found this side effect more then worth the possibility of weight gain or bone density loss. 

Other side effects include nervousness, mood changes, headaches, bloating, hot flashes , decreased interest in sex, breast tenderness, acne, hair loss and backache. I did not experience any of these while on depo provera. This is what I really wanted to talk about in this hub actually, coming off the depo injection.

Coming Off Depo Provera

I was advised (all those years ago) that should I ever decide I wanted to have a baby it could take awhile to happen after discontinuing the injections. I was told that it could take up to 2 years for my period and fertility to return to normal. 

I have to say it took about half a year longer then that! I have only just had my first period in a decade. It is not my norm either. I had quite a few weeks of on and off spotting before having what could be called a true period of any description. I had had weeks of spotting on and off about 6 months after initially coming off the injection but it was typically more off then on.

I don't regret going on this form of birth control. The side effects for me proved very positive and to be honest I am a little scared of the complete return to my 'normal' periods. I am also worried that I may find it takes a long time still to become pregnant. 

When the two year mark had passed and the only change in my body was tender and painful nipples I started reading what I could find of other peoples experiences with coming off the injection. I found a few stories of women afraid that they had been made infertile. The stories ranged from after 2 years (the maximum length of time medically advised for a return to fertility) no period and no pregnancy to pregnancies ending in upsetting miscarriages. 

I have to say that in my opinion and based on the stories shared on the internet from other women in situations similar to mine, the side effects of this form of birth control can extend way past the point of its current use or even the time scales given for the chemicals to leave the body. It is easy to worry so long after coming off this birth control that it feels like very long lasting infertility is possible. 

I cannot speak on real medical grounds, I have used the medication but am no doctor or scientist. I do hope that those in charge of investigating all side effects of medicines are able to expand on the knowledge and understanding of this medication. I am going from memory but I do remember a story of pre mature menopause after coming off depo provera that the individual believed to be responsible for it. It does seem from my experience that this could well be possible, my body is certainly producing results beyond what I was advised could happen when I decided to start on the injection. 

I am not giving up hope that I may well find myself with child (and healthy, normal etc.) now that I have had a period much heavier then spotting (tho not as bad as I used to be able to get). In 10 years a lot can happen to a person and I have gone from thinking I should not have a kid (barely being able to take care of myself let alone a baby) to being married and confident that I could provide a loving and happy home to a child. 

I guess my final thoughts are that if this medication has had such an effect on my body as to reduce my fertility permanently (making pregnancy very difficult) it would be upsetting as the medical advice does not extend to permanent decrease in fertility. On the other hand, when I started on depo provera I did not want to have a baby and probably would have made the same choice if I had had that as a bit of advice. Life is full of choices and once made our choices are our responsibility. Perhaps if this article is read by someone who would be more careful in making their birth control choice they will decide to investigate further and feel they have made a more informed decision then I feel I made.

I hope that by sharing my experience you have learned something new and that at least a few of you have been helped :)

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Comments 44 comments

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

An informed mind makes better decisions...


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I won't be using this, of course, but I can have more sensitivity. Thank you!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

What a great hub! Personal experience is a great educator and I feel this is a very good hub full of useful data.


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 6 years ago from London UK Author

earnesthub - thanks for the compliment, coming from a skilled writer like you it is high praise :)

When I first stopped taking the injection I wanted to know everything I could about what to expect and found there just wasn't enough, its nice to help contribute to what's out there for the next person to go through this experience.


kboo1 5 years ago

I regret using the depo shot because now that i am trying to have a baby i cant!!


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

kboo1 - I know where you are coming from, I have been off the stuff for I think three years now (wow) and my periods have only really just started again. My last one took like three weeks, half way through I thought it was almost over as it got very light, then hit harder then before with worse cramps and a heavier flow. I am not getting totally discouraged until my period gets back to normal, it seems to be a very very slow process. My husband and I both hope to have a child soon but I just am not going to get my hopes up for a while yet. I really do hope that it is a case of it takes ages for the hormones and such to go back to normal, if I hit menopause early then I will know I it ruined my chances for a baby.


hello mickey 5 years ago

i actually have been looking for what to expect when coming off depo. so thank you.. the last day of my depo shot window was dec 1st.2010 and 3 weeks later i got my period, although i am worried that like you, i might not have a normal period. only time will tell i guess


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

hello mickey - Only 3 weeks! You are lucky! It took me closer to that many years for a real period.

I do think that they might finally be stabilizing now tho. There is some semblance of a cycle emerging now. I am also hoping that I might be able to use a pregnancy test (assuming I get the idea that its possible I have gotten pregnant) without getting false positives. The hormones in the injection will give false positive results as they 'trick' the body into thinking it is pregnant.


childlesswonder 5 years ago

I had one depo shot when I was 20 yrs old. gained 50+ lbs in 3 mos. and haven't been able to get them off still...I am now 34. My periods have practically stopped and I am now seeking infertility treatment. To top it off I didn't even ask for this birth control. Planned parenthood decided to give it to me immediately after an abortion. Stuck it in my arm and said it would last 3 mos. Don't opt for this drug, it may ruin your life.


TryingtoConceive 5 years ago

I was on the depo shot for about 2 years when I decided to go off it. I had gained a significant amount of weight. I could not seem to lose the weight either no matter what I tried. I spoke to my doctor about this and she told me she would not put me back on the pill because she insisted I had high blood pressure. I had gone to my family doctor and my blood pressure was fine. She thought it better for me to stay on the shot and basically continue to gain weight. She refused to change my birth control so I decided I was stopping the shot. I could not continue to gain weight because that would lead to high blood pressure among other things!

I have been off the shot for close to 4 years now. I think I got my first period about a year and 7 months after going off the shot. I have gone months without getting a period. I then got a period every month for about 4 months straight with very heavy flow. The last 2 months I've had spotting and cramping here and there, but no real period.

My husband and I are trying to start a family as well. We've been trying for about 7-8 months now. I sincerely hope that being on the shot has not eliminated my chances of having children.


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

childlesswonder - I am really surprised they gave you the shot without a consultation or express consent! That is shocking. You could have grounds to take legal action for treatment that you did not want and would not have agreed to? I don't know how a case like that would work but it could send a message about forcing the injection when its not wanted.

TryingtoConceive - It sounds like you are in a similar situation to me. Its been over 2 years off the stuff and I can finally say that my periods are back and almost normal. It is worrisome now because I think I should be able to conceive now and if I can't.......

I do think that this 'treatment' needs more explanation of potential risks when being given. I think all the comments so far goes a long way to proving this.


Naomi 5 years ago

I wish i would have read this befor i chose to take it!


Clare 5 years ago

Great article. I have used the depo, 5 years ago after having my son. But I don't recommend it. I experienced bleeding inbetween periods which was quite heavey at times. Blood pressure , and pains in my ovaries that was very harsh. I was really worried and decided to stop taking the injection. It took me another 3 years to fall pregnant after stopping the injection which was quite worrying for me.


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

Clare - thank you for sharing you experience here. I do hope that this article might be of help to anyone thinking about trying this form of birth control as it does seem there are more things to consider then I was told when I started using it.


hersheychocolate 5 years ago

I had my last depo shot on jan 21 2011..which was my 3 shot. I tried to stick it out in hopes that the off and on bleeding would stop but it never did.. I went onn depo because I had very bad cycles and a lot of pain, but my cycle would last only 4 days and it was regular. now I'm not sure how it will be as this off and on bleeding I'm not sure if it's a cycle or not.. Now I feel what I'm having is a normal menstrual cycle because it feels the same before I had the shot.. all i can do is wait and see if I have another cycle like this in april.. once I get some type of regular cycle I will go on the pill. I will never recommend Depo to anyone from my experience it just wasn't for me..has anyone had any of the same problems as myself?


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

hersheychocolate - I totally had painful cramps before I tried Depo. Mine would last 5-7 days with a week of spots and mood swings before it hit, a week of debilitating pain, then a week of recovery from it all! I thought depo was a blessing when I first started it because of how it 'normalized' me. It is about 3 years off now and my periods have finally gotten back to a normal cycle (so far the pain is more manageable then it used to be but the skin problems are back, yikes!). What gets to me is that they say it takes a year or so, not 3+ years to get back to normal. It is a big reason to not take the stuff.


hersheychocolate 5 years ago

kirstenblog - I would give anything to have back my old cycle with the terrible pain and all then to have this on and off bleeding, wearing pads everyday because you are spotting etc.. at least that was for 4 -5 days and I knew when it was coming.. now all I do is wear pads everyday and wonder is this a cycle or not.. I'm just hoping to get some normality and for this break through bleeding to stop.. I have one more month to go when this horrible stuff will be out of my system, NEVER NEVER again would I try this or recommend anyone it just didn't work with me.. I haven't ahd skin problems or weight gain but the bleeding every other day is terrible and I spend so much money on pads its crazy.. thank god I am not in a relationship I can imagine the affect it would have on that and to be honest I wouldn't want to be intimate not with all this on and off bleeding.. the stuff needs to be taken off the market or ALL the symptons need to be listed and given to you.. I was not award of all the symptons but lord knows if I had read this blog before I never would of let that stuff in my body.. somoen mentioned that birth conttol pills would help regulate your cycle and help with the bleeding, I am going to check with a doctor about this.. if I get any sort of normal cycle in April I would start birth control if it will help with getting back to regular or close to it..


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

hersheychocolate - I think you are probably wise to try the pill, I have heard that it can help kick start a normal cycle again from a few sources (when you come off depo and it is not leaving your body in the time frame it is supposed to, one year was so not enough, more like three years). I do think they are giving this stuff out without actually knowing the full side effects possible. I wonder if it takes so long to leave my system and allow me to have a period again if it ever really leaves? It's a bit worrisome.


ptosis profile image

ptosis 5 years ago from Arizona

Depovera is used for chemical castration on men for imprisoned rapists in a Europe country - has the same effect on woman - no sexual desire whatsoever. ( I used it and didn't know that until after the shot wore off)


ayanaboo 5 years ago

the worst mistake of my very short life was taking the depo shot!!! i took for no period and/or a lighter period. my first shot i was on my period almost a whole month!!! my second and last shot i wass always spottiing!! fianly i had made up my mind to get off the CRAPPP!! and have had a period for almost 2 months!!i am so tired of having a period im thinking of getting a historectomy but of course im too youmg :(


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

ayanaboo - I have been off the stuff for 3 years now and while my cycle is back to normal (mostly) I am still struggling to get pregnant :(. Considering I am struggling to quit smoking I am not as upset as I would be but I am still worried that I might not be able to at all and hope with time a family that is typically very fertile will help me recover....


New 2011 Mom profile image

New 2011 Mom 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

Since(what it seems like) you like to read up on stories about this birth control you should watch for my hub I will be posting in a short while. My doctors, after having my dauhgter, basically forced this on me. I'm having so many side effects that I have to get off of this almost immediatlly. Great hug by the way!


tiffany 5 years ago

i have been off the depo for six months and still no sigh of a period. I am as many of you are worried my period will never be the same again and most of all that i may never get the chance to have children. i also regret taking the depo


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK Author

New 2011 Mom, I will have to keep an eye out for your hub, maybe you will post a link here when its published?

I spent like 10 years on this injection and am now very worried I might not be able to have kids even with my periods FINALLY going back to something like normal (still don't get the debilitating cramps like I used to so not completely normal, for me). I hope if anyone out there is considering this birth control that they find this and similar articles, its good to be as informed as possible when taking any drug and with this one, it seems very important indeed (being able to have kids is huge).

tiffany - I hope that your body can recover from the depo, maybe if you weren't taking it for as long...? I got my fingers crossed for ya!


New 2011 Mom profile image

New 2011 Mom 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

http://hubpages.com/health/Mommy-Problems

this is my short article I wrote. It had to be short because at the time I wasn't feeling so great because of the shot.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Hey Kirsten, I've heard people have different side effects from the normal, considering all each person's body handles things differently. But, I certainly hope that if you want a child, that you are able to have one. You seem to be a great person and would make a great mom. Good luck going forward. :)


ckay 5 years ago

i have been off depo for a month still have not had a period at all is that normal i was scared i was pregnant already


Amanda 5 years ago

I was on the depo shot from June 2010 till June 2011. I was supposed to get another shot in June but I wanted off of it. It didn't take very long for my periods to start, but now I have been on a period for 6 weeks. It has been mostly spot bleeding with a few times of heavy bleeding. The cramps are terrible though. I still have lingering side effects from the shot and am having a hard time losing the weight I gained while on the shot. I thought it was nice not having a period at all for a year, but now I have had half a years periods in 6 weeks. I also worry about having kids and a normal period.


Boogielee 5 years ago

I have decided to stop depo provera after 16 years straight! Not a single break,i'm 40 this year and was diagnosed with osteoporosis 5 years ago.


Julie 5 years ago

I was on Depo for over 3 years and decided to go off of it because I had continuous HEAVY bleeding for 2 months. I lost all desire for sex but gained 20 pounds. I have switched to the patch but haven't had a period yet (only been on the patch for 1 month). My nipples are very tender and I spend all my time worried that I am pregnant but worry if I take a test I'll get a false positive. I originally went on Depo because my periods were so heavy and painful. I will always regret this decision as I had to take prescribed medicine to stop the bleeding once I was off of it.


Jessica 4 years ago

I am dealing with the same issues that it seems most everyone is dealing with. I was on depo from March 2006 to October 2010. In May 2011, when I went in for my annual, my doctor was concerned that I had no indication of my period returning. She put me on birth control. It is now 5 months later and my periods have no returned. I do, however, spot very lightly for two days each month during the non-active pills. My husband and I want to start trying to conceive. I feel pathetic that every month I hope and pray that I will get my period. I, like many other women here, am worried that I ruined my body by using depo. I am a proud anti-depo activist to any and all female friends and relatives. The struggle to conceive is so frustrating and I know I just need to give it time but I just keep thinking, I'm not getting any younger.


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 4 years ago from London UK Author

Jessica - Sorry I didn't see your comment earlier! It sounds like you are in a similar place to me 2 years ago or so. I spent ages where the closest I came to a period was a little bit of spotting. Unlike you, my doctor isn't at all worried or concerned and says it's all normal (yeah right!). I am getting fairly regular periods (tho the time between each seems to often be shorter then it should be, then a longer stretch without gets my hopes up only for my period to hit a week or so late). I also find that even tho I am having somewhat regular periods, they don't last as long as they used to and aren't as heavy. I assume my body is STILL resuming a proper cycle. I have a number of times now also gotten sick for no reason and wondered if it was morning sickness, only to have my period arrive within a few days. It's so hard when you get your hopes up and then, nothing!


karla 4 years ago

i just came off the depo shot about 3 weeks ago. all ive wanted to do is sleep and been very sluggish. on top of that my stomach has been hurting a little aswell. ive been on the depo for 2 years. im not sure if its the depo or if something else wrong with me. did any one feel the same?


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 4 years ago from London UK Author

karia - I did not feel that way myself, you may have some sort of bug and I would think that either way you probably should see your doctor and have a word with them. If the depo is the problem then you might need something that would normalise your hormones and of course if you are sick at least you would know :D

I have heard a few people say that their doctor put them on the pill simply because it can help to normalise their cycle and if your unwell feelings are to do with the depo shot then it could be a hormonal thing that the pill might help with.


swithoni 4 years ago

I got my first injection ever on august 22 on my buttocks that hurted like crazy. and i decided no to take it any more never got my period in september nor october.and by november i was getting all the side effects headache, gained weight i felt like i was pregnant,hungry like a cow and nauseous had many mood swing depo completely changed my hormones. so by the end of november i was getting sore nipples very painful and i didn't go to get my shot on nov 21 so i started spotting for a week then stopped then i got my period on dec1 and im still spotting and bleeding alit. my period is very irregular. I just want to know if it will get regular soon cause i just had one shot in my whole life? and how long will it take for my hormones to become regular again like before depo? has any had this shot just once?


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 4 years ago from London UK Author

swithoni - I cannot say for sure how long it will take but from just one shot you seem to have had one bad reaction. Have you talked to your doctor about this because your reaction seems extreme? I would think it is a good idea just in case. In theory you may start to feel more normal around a year after your last and only injection but if there is a reason for your extreme reaction I would hate to say for sure. I hope your doctor can help a little more, especially if you have a hormone imbalance now (even if a temporary thing, they should still help you with it).


AD 4 years ago

Very helpful! Thanks so much, just stopped using and your story is encouraging!


blair 4 years ago

when I was 16 I had periods that lasted 3 weeks every month and the cramps and mood swings were horrible so I got on the depo to help. I never had a period the entire year I was on it and only gained maybe 20 pounds. I got off of it because I started becoming depressed and after I stopped taking it everything returned to normal immediately. I am now 20 and have had two babies and decided to get back on it. I got my first shot september 23 2011 and I also started my period that morning before I got it I never stopped bleeding. some days is bright red other days its a dark brownish red. I will not get another shot. my dr told me that after 2 weeks of not receiving my second shot should return to normal bit its been a month and a half and no change. my husband and have been trying to get pregnantbecause my first baby was born at 24 weeks and only lived 6 weeks. sowe reallywant another child. for the last two months I have been feeling pregnant but I'm not and its very frustrating and upsetting to think that we may never be able to haveanother child


Terrinesha McClellan 4 years ago

I HAD MY BABY JANUARY 24,2010. I GOT ON THE SHOT THE SAME DAYS I HAD HER. FROM THEN ON I WAS TAKING THE SHOT EVERY THREE MONTHS. TELL I WAS SUPPOSE TO TAKE IT AGAIN IN MARCH 2012 BUT I DIDN'T BECAUSE ME AND MY HUSBAND WANTED ANOTHER BABY. TWO MONTHS AFTER MARCH AND I STARTED TO BLEED, IT LAST FOR A WEEK AND THEN IT STARTED AGAIN IN JULY AND STAYED DOWN FOR ABOUT 2WEEKS. AND THEN IT STOP AND STARTED AGAIN AUGUST 5, 2012 AND TODAY ITS AUG 16, 2012 AND ITS SLOWED DOWN. I'M JUST 19 YEARS OLD I HOPING TO BE PREGNANT SOON LIKE SEPTEMBER THIS YEAR. BUT I SHOULD'VE TOOK IT RIGHT AFTER HAVING MY BABY BECAUSE YOU CAN SAY I BEEN WITH OUT A period FOR 3YEARS. BUT I DID GET BIGGER FROM IT BUT MY BLOOD PRESSURE NEVER WAS HIGH WHEN I WAS ON IT. NEVER HAD A PERIOD WHILE ON THE SHOT. I DIDN'T HAVE ANY PROBLEMS WHEN I WAS ON IT. BUT NOW I'M HAVING PROBLEMS NOW THAT I WANT ANOTHER CHILD...


tg 4 years ago

ive been on the shot for over 10 years the drs want me to come off bc a bone density test came back bad.. im scared to come off and do not know what to expect.. and should i start a different birth control right away? im thinking seasonale bc of the fewer periods.

i never gained weigh, i only spotted the first month of getting the shot and never after that! 10 years without a period! i woudnt come off if they said my bone density was fine! im so sacred! i feel like a teenager again.. getting ready to start her period for the first time!


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 4 years ago from London UK Author

tg, you will need to ask your doctor about alternative birth control, what to try and when to start it (right away or not) but my experience is that after a decade of no periods, they don't come back that fast. Even when they do, it takes time to go back to 'normal' ie, how long they last, how regular your periods come and how heavy. I appreciated how long it took because I could get back into the rhythm of having a period but wanting a child it was also frustrating. Put it this way, you may not need to buy too many tampons/pads for a while yet.... :D


el 3 years ago

I to have been on this shot for a long time started around middle school and I'm now 22. I haven't had any serious side effects. Only decreased sex drive. I'm still a virgin maybe this is why.. I do have knee pain that started last summer and docs still can't figure out why. I also have pain in my hands and legs, neck and back. Idk if this is because of the depo. i do know that i have tendinosis of the quad tendon. I was told this was do to extendious exercise from going to boot camp. Maybe it is this shot that is all my problems. Should i go off of this shot with all the horrible side effects i have herd off people coming off it or stick with it?


Marie 3 years ago

My doctor put me on depo after having my baby,but forgot to tell me it hurts your bones when mine are so bad already. And he is my go so he knows how bad my bones are from my illness. Doctors really need to tell you these things .


Hayley 19 months ago

I found this while searching for information about break-outs after coming off of the shot. I've only had the shot once, Just came off of it a month ago, I believe I am ovulating again already, and it would be the first time I suppose in over three months, but I have never had such horrible, terrible acne. It's so painful, too! I've always had issues with acne, (hormonal,) and this is the first time I don't even want to leave the house because of it. But I'm a mother, and I don't really have a choice. haha I personally don't think I'll be taking this again, based on my experience, (bleeding nonstop for a whole month, acne, etc.,) and especially now, reading about potential fertility issues.

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