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Birth Control Shot

Learn all about this popular birth control method, including the version you can inject at home.

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Written by Nurx
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Birth control shots are a safe, effective, and affordable way to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Here at Nurx, we offer the Depo-SubQ Provera 104 shot — the most commonly available birth control shot out there. 

If you’re considering choosing the shot as your preferred method of birth control, you’ll want to know more about it before signing up. Check out the guide below to see if the birth control shot is right for you.

How does the birth control shot work?

The Depo-SubQ Provera 104 shot contains progestin, a hormone found naturally in women’s bodies. By increasing the levels of progestin in the body, the birth control shot prevents ovulation from occurring. If ovulation doesn’t occur, eggs don’t get released and therefore cannot be fertilized. 

Get Birth Control At Home

Birth control from Nurx costs as little as $0 with insurance or $15 per month without insurance.

Changes in progestin levels also thicken the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. In addition, the shot thins the lining of the uterine wall, preventing fertilized eggs from attaching and growing over time. Like all forms of hormonal birth control, the shot does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

How do I use the birth control shot?

In order to be effective, the shot must be administered once every 12 to 13 weeks. The shot must go under the skin or into a muscle in order to properly deliver its hormones, making the upper arm or the buttocks the two most common places to inject. 

Your regular healthcare provider will be able to administer the birth control shot, but ordering the shot through Nurx allows you to give the shot yourself. The syringe and instructions provided make the whole process simple, ensuring that anyone can get the birth control they need. 

While the shot should ideally be administered every 3 months, you can give yourself your next shot between 12 and 14  weeks after your previous shot. If you wait longer than that, you’ll need to wait for at least 7 days for the shot to begin working properly. 

Starting The Shot

You can start taking the shot at any time and at any point in your menstrual cycle. If you take the first shot within the 7 days after your period begins, you will be protected from unwanted pregnancy. Otherwise, you will have to wait 7 days before the shot becomes fully effective. 

How effective is the birth control shot?

The shot is an extremely effective birth control option — fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant annually when using the shot perfectly. With typical use, however, the shot’s efficacy rate drops to about 94%.

The reason the actual effectiveness rate is slightly lower is because women sometimes forget to take their shots on time, leaving them at a greater risk for pregnancy. Women who take the shot exactly as prescribed have an extremely low chance of becoming pregnant. 

Is the birth control shot safe?

The birth control shot is a perfectly safe option for most women. Unlike some other forms of birth control, the shot does not contain estrogen, meaning that women with potential heart or blood pressure issues should consider it as an option. Because it lacks estrogen, the shot is also an option for women who are breastfeeding, because estrogen in birth control may reduce milk supply. 

The shot can decrease bone density in those who use it, so women with a history of osteoporosis might want to consider other options. As with all types of hormonal birth control, women who are interested in adopting the shot should speak with a medical professional first.

What are the side effects of the birth control shot?

Because each shot includes 3 months’ worth of hormones, women who take the shot are likely to stop having their period over time. Some women, however, experience increases in bleeding or other menstrual irregularities. Most of these side effects will end after a year of continuous use. 

Most women who take the shot will experience no serious change in their health, but some potential side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Decreased libido
  • Bruising of the injection site
  • Breast tenderness
  • Fatigue

The shot also carries with it some positive side effects, such as increased protection against uterine cancer and ectopic pregnancies. 

The Shot and Weight Gain 

The shot is the only popular form of hormonal birth control proven to cause weight gain, though very few women will experience a change in their weight as a result of the shot. Women who did gain weight while on the shot were likely to lose it again soon thereafter. 

Is the birth control shot right for me?

Most women find that the birth control shot is an effective and easy option for avoiding unwanted pregnancy. One of its biggest perks is that it only needs to be taken every 3 months, meaning there’s no need to remember to swallow a pill every single day. The shot can also decrease the severity of a woman’s period, making it an option for women who struggle with heavy bleeding or PMS symptoms

Women who are hoping to get pregnant immediately after stopping birth control might want to consider other options than the shot. While the shot does not decrease your chance of getting pregnant in the long term once you stop using it, longtime users of the shot may have to wait up to 10 months before they can get pregnant. 

How do I get the birth control shot? 

If you go through your medical provider, you’ll need to undergo a preliminary exam that examines your blood pressure and medical history before you can start taking the shot. You’ll also need to schedule an appointment every 3 months in order to get your next dosage on time. Women with particularly busy or unpredictable schedules should keep this in mind.

If you get your shot through Nurx, one of our medical professionals will ask you some questions, go over your medical history and have you submit a recent blood pressure reading before prescribing you your birth control. The shot comes to you in discreet packaging and can be administered by you in the privacy of your home, and you inject it under your skin on your stomach or upper thigh. We automatically renew your prescription, meaning you’ll get your next shot exactly when you need to every 3 months. 

Costs for the Depo-SubQ Provera 104 shot can vary greatly depending on your insurance. Women with insurance may be able to get the shot for as little as $0, while those without insurance might pay up to $75 per injection. Keep in mind that you’ll only need four injections a year.

Get in contact with one of our medical professionals today to see if the birth control shot is the right method for you. We’re dedicated to making the process of getting birth control as easy for you as possible, so don’t be afraid to ask whatever questions you may have.



All hormone-containing birth control may cause side effects. Fortunately, these are rare and are less common than similar problems that can occur during pregnancy. Make sure to review the birth control shot’s side effects. Please note that the above content is informational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. 

This blog pro­vides infor­ma­tion about telemed­i­cine, health and related sub­jects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be con­strued as a substitute for, med­ical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or per­son with a med­ical con­cern should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.

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