How bad is Depo Provera, really?

note: I am looking for opinions of medical professionals or anyone who’s had experience with Depo. I know that only my physician, who has my full medical history, should diagnose/treat problems

I’ve been on the Depo shot for about four years now. Never had any problems with it, love the stuff.

However, last time I went to the clinic to get it done, they referred me to a website similar to this and asked me to sign a waiver stating that I knew it could cause bone density loss. My doc also said that though the clinic prefers people not get the shot, and does counsel about alternative forms of birth control, I still have the choice to receive it.

Should I be very worried about side effects from Depo? I’m in my early twenties, do not smoke, take calcium supplements, and excercise regularly. Would it be a good idea to seek out an alternative birth control, or is this just my clinic being overcautious? Thanks for the opinions.

mods - sorry if this is the wrong forum or has been done before

I’m waaaaaaaay interested in any answers - I’ve been on Depo about 5 years and also love it.

This must be a new thing. I was on depo for seven years, first through one doc, then another. Neither one made any mention of these things. I read the usual side effects like weight gain ( which never happened to me) and fewer to no menstrual cycles (which DID happen and I loved it!) but never anything that required a waiver.

I have been off it for about 3 years now because my guy is neutered, but at times I think about going back on it just because I loved having no periods.

I’ve been on it for about six years because I had SEVERE menstrual cramps. Since I’ve been on Depo, my periods have stopped, which has to be the best thing since sliced bread. For me, the side effects seem relatively minor in comparison to the benefits.

I, too, never gained any weight, or had any mood problems. My bone density may be a problem in the future, because I don’t eat right, and I have a few bad habits. If I could get myself in the habit of taking a calcium pill every day, it’s probably be a Good Thing.

I’m gonna follow this thread, too. I’m heading into my fifth year of use, and REALLY don’t want to give it up.

Give it up? Over my cold, dead body.

I was one of those women with bad PMS. I mean severe. For a week prior to my period, I was useless. If you looked at me, I either burst into tears or removed your head forcibly without anesthetic. Knowing I had nothing to cry/be pissed off about did not help the situation, only depressed me about my lack of self control. And about every third month I would have such bad cramps I wanted to die.

Because I am childless, I was unable to find a doctor to do a tubal when I had insurance. When Mr. SCL was in the Army, my GYN told me he would sterilize me if he were seeing me in private practice, but Army policy forbid sterilizing a woman with no children. I went through years of hell trying different pills.

Findind Depo was a blessing. Just don’t let them give you the shot in the arm.

My doctor says he’s not going to let me continue to get the shot once I turn 35 (next year). I nearly fainted. Periods were ruining my life and I’m not going back to them without a fight.

I’m the only person I know who is looking forward to menopause.

Yay! I get to be the voice of dissent! :smiley:

Depo was the worst experience of my life. I remember when I was talking to the doc about birth control options and she mentioned Depo, I asked about the side effects. “Oh, your period will stop, but that’s it.” I grabbed the lil’ pamphlet and started to read. “Uh, doc? This says my hair could fall out, I could gain weight…on and on…” Doc: “Oh no worries. I’ve NEVER heard of any of those side effects happening to anyone. You know, they just have to say it because it might happen.”

So I think: why the hell not?

At first everything was good. My period stopped altogether and that was just glorious. That was about the only good thing.

To begin with, I had horrible mood swings. I would just burst into tears randomly, scream at people- basically PMS-y every day of the month. I gained 20 lbs even though I got a trainer and nutritionist (because I knew there was a pretty good chance I would gain weight, as with all BC). And that was just the first shot.

The doc said my body was just adjusting and everything would even out, so she talked me into taking another shot. I gained another 20 lbs. I got migrains so bad that I was having them virtually non stop and passing out from the pain. My hair started falling out in chunks. My vision suddenly got worse. My feet would swell up. I’d get weird cravings for food- I honestly that I was pregnant.There are a million other things, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

And surely, someone will say, “How do you know all of these things were the fault of Depo?” Well, everything got better within 6 months of me stopping (well, except the weight…working on that). I’m back to my normal, non psychotic self. My hair doesn’t fall out. My vision went back to better then 20/20. And I stopped having weird, pregnancy-like symptoms.

After doing some research online, I found out that there are a lot of people who had the exact same symptoms I had. I also recognize that this medication is a Godsend for others. I think there just needs to be more information out there about the side effects of this drug and doctors need to be more forthcoming (or maybe mine was just an idiot…probably that, actually).

I should also mention that, when I switched doctors, my new doctor told me that she tells people to stay away from Depo. Why? She’s had so many cases like mine.

If it’s not too personal, would you mind saying why? I’ll be 34 in a couple of months, and have always thought that Depo would be one of my options if I ever find myself in a long-term relationship. Is 35 a general cutoff, or is it something about you personally being 35 that your doctor doesn’t think would work with the Depo?

He keeps pushing and pushing and pushing me toward a tubal. I’ve said about a bajillion times that it’s not just the birth control that I’m interested in but the side effects of the Depo and, frankly, he doesn’t listen.

I’m on the lookout for a new doctor. From what I’ve read, 35 isn’t any sort of cutoff for Depo. This doctor for me is the same one that put me on anti-depressants for a week and then said that they weren’t working when I didn’t feel better.

Sooo, don’t take my experience as anything to worry about.

jsgoddess- I know that the little pamphlet mentions women over 35 who smoke are at a higher risk of blood clots, but I hardly think it means “No Depo for you! You’re cutoff!” after 35. Sounds like looking for a new doctor is a good idea, if he’s pushing you towards something you’re not remotly interested in.

DiosaBellisima, I’m so sorry about your experience. No one I know on Depo has had that happen, but I’ve read about a lot of cases on the internet. When I first went on Depo, my doc was very careful - she told me there may be some side effects, but they should be mild. She told me that if I gained a bunch of weight (like 5 or 10 pounds) in the first month, lost hair, got headaches, noticed anything about my vision or memory, or was having uncontrolable mood swings, to come see her right away and we’d figure out what was going on.

That raises another question: if I’ve had no problems at all in four years, is it likely to start causing problems? Like I said, I love the stuff - I haven’t gained weight, my appetite has decreased (but not to an unhealthy point), my sex drive increased, no problems with vision or headaches. Is there a chance I could all of a sudden start losing my hair or gaining weight? Hmm, perhaps I’ll ask the doc next time I’m in.

I’m not a smoker and I would understand better his concern if I were. Instead, he just keeps rambling on about how it’s not natural to disturb the hormones for a long time and that out of control periods are no reason to take birth control, that I should just get a tubal and if my problems continue then we should look at what’s going on.

I’m 34. I had my first period at 11 (on my birthday! sob) and suffered for twenty years. No doctor could do anything for it in all that time, but I’m supposed to abandon the one thing that has finally normalized my life and just trust that he’s going to be the exception because it’s “unnatural” to take Depo.


Of course I am not a doctor, but I would imagine you should be fine if you haven’t had side effects all this time. Then again, maybe if you have a hormonal shift or something, the meds may react differently? Someone else might have better knowledge in this area.

And don’t worry about me, I’m on Yasmine now and I’m happy as a clam :slight_smile:

I’m 44 and still on Depo. I haven’t had a period in years. How will I know when I reach menopause?

Depo has got to be the scariest thing I have ever had in my body. I thought I was going to die before the stuff ever got of my system. I also gaind MAJOR pounds, my hair fell out, headaches, vision problems, and such. But not only that I had one long period for like three or four months. ONE LONG PERIOD. Never stopped, it was so awful, I was weak, and tired all the time. Then, even though I didn’t get anouther shot, I never had another period for almost a year. I can’t ever remeber when I have been so sick. I am on the pill now and I love it.

Okay ladies I know periods suck, but am I the only one that thinks that no matter how safe they say it is, that preventing your body from working the way it was made too is kinda strange? (As in the no periods on Depo)

Hormonal b.c. doesn’t work for me (emotional lability, which is what my doc calls a sudden mood swing into murderous rage that I experience even on low dose hormones. Whee.) so I’m not speaking from personal bias, but no, I don’t think that’s terribly strange. In fact, there has been a theory raised in the last couple of years that menstruating so regularly and for so many years is the unnatural thing since before the widespread availability of b.c. most women a: lived shorter lives and b: spent large chunks of their life pregnant and therefore not having periods (large family sizes, high infant mortality etc.) This article fleshes that out a bit: I’m on the fence but it’s really interesting stuff to think about!

Nope. Periods don’t just suck for me. TMI, sorry. But they mean 2-3 days of vomiting, mind-bending cramps, and diarrhea every 3-5 weeks (I’m extremely irregular). If that’s the way my body is made to work, well, nature can bite me. :slight_smile:

It would be interesting to see what factors play into a person’s reaction.

It seems that those with favorable reactions (ie no bad side effects) had heavy, horrible periods to begin with. I know that I had a really light period to begin with that was very regular and pretty painless- and I’ve said how I reacted.

That’s exactly what has kept me off any kind of birth control to this point, DiosaBellissima: my periods are very light and regular, too, with little-to-no cramping or PMS or anything, and I haven’t wanted to screw with what ain’t broken. But still, if I find myself in a long-term relationship I’ll want to rely on something more than condoms, so I follow threads like this with a lot of interest!