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How Do I Switch from the Depo-Provera Shot to the Pill?

Switching from the Depo-Provera shot to a birth control pill option is as simple as contacting your healthcare providing and starting a regimen of birth control pills once your Depo-Provera shot has worn off. While the Depo-Provera shot is an extremely effective birth control method, some women may experience side effects that they wish to alleviate by opting for another form of birth control. Additionally, some women who have been on the shot for a while might want to change to a different form of birth control if they have concerns about their bone density.

How does the birth control shot prevent pregnancy?

The birth control shot is a hormonal birth control option that delivers progestin through a shot in the muscle. The Depo-Provera shot can last for up to three months and prevents pregnancy by stopping your ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens your cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg and fertilize it in the unlikely event that you do ovulate.

What side effects might you experience with the Depo-Provera shot?

There are some common, but minor side effects that some women may experience when using Depo-Provera, including:

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  • Breakthrough bleeding, spotting, or irregular bleeding
  • Shorter, lighter periods or the complete absence of a period
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Increased appetite and possible weight gain
  • Depression
  • Excessive hair growth or hair loss
  • Nausea (though this side effect usually subsides after your body gets used to the increased hormones)
  • Soreness or fullness in the breasts
  • Headaches
  • Bone loss (if taken for more than two years and you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet)

These side effects can continue until the hormones leave your body, but most of them are minor and only experienced after the first dose.

How do birth control pills help to prevent pregnancy?

Birth control pills are another hormonal birth control option that has a 99 percent effective rate when taken at the same time each day without missing a dose. With less than perfect use, the effectiveness is still at 91 percent. You can choose from birth control pills that contain only progestin or a combination of progestin and estrogen. They help reduce your risk of pregnancy by ceasing ovulation, making your cervical mucus too thick for sperm to travel, and by thinning out the lining of the uterus to make implantation difficult.

What side effects might you experience when on birth control pills?

Possible side effects are minor and tend to be more prevalent with birth control pills that contain estrogen. Some possible side effects you may experience with birth control pill use include:

  • Spotting or breakthrough bleeding
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Sore or tender breasts
  • An increase in weight
  • Decreased appetite
  • Alterations in mood
  • Headaches

As with the birth control shot, most of the side effects of birth control pills will lessen over time as your body begins to acclimate to the higher doses of hormones in the body.

Steps to follow once you have decided to make the switch

To ensure protection against pregnancy, it is best to use the “no-gap” method when switching from the birth control shot to birth control pills.

  1. Contact your healthcare provider for instructions for making the switch.
  2. Obtain your first pack of birth control pills.
  3. Determine the best time of day for you to remember to take the pill consistently.
  4. Start your first birth control pill on the day your shot would be due. For example, if it’s easiest for you to start the pill on a Sunday to stay on track, it’s safe to take the pill on the Sunday before your next shot would be given.

Risk factors you should take into account with any hormonal method

There are certain risk factors that you should take into consideration when taking any form of hormonal birth control. If you have any of the risk factors below, you should consult with your healthcare provider to see if the risks are worth the rewards. Some risk factors that can cause complications with hormonal birth control options include:

  • Smoking
  • Blood-clotting disorders
  • A history of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke
  • You are over the age of 35
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • You suffer from migraines
  • Your BMI is over a healthy weight
  • You currently have breast cancer
  • You have a condition that requires bed rest

You may still have the option of taking hormonal birth control even if you have any of the above risk factors, but you should discuss them with your healthcare provider before starting a new birth control routine.

When should you contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing side effects?

If you notice any of the symptoms below, you should contact your healthcare provider or seek medical attention immediately:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Pain in your chest or legs
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Severe or worsening headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in vision
  • Slurring
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness in your arms or legs

How to choose the right birth control method for you

If you are unsure which birth control option is best for you, discuss your needs with one of our Nurx™ healthcare providers, and they will explain which options will best suit your lifestyle. If hormonal options don’t best suit your needs, there are a number of other options out there to make sure that you get the pregnancy protection you need.

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