The contraceptive injection commonly known as Depo, is an injection of the hormone progestogen (medroxyprogesterone).

It is injected into the muscle every 12 weeks and is slowly absorbed into the blood stream to prevent pregnancy. It is 96% – 99.95% effective.

Depo does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or blood-borne viruses (BBVs). Practice safer sex by using condoms to reduce the risk of STIs and BBVs.

Contraceptive Injection Guide

Contraceptive Injection FAQs

    What is Depo?

    The contraceptive injection (also called ‘Depo’) contains the hormone progestogen
    (medroxyprogesterone acetate) which is similar to the hormone progesterone, naturally produced by a woman’s ovaries.

    In Australia the contraceptive injection is sold as Depo-Provera® or Depo-Ralovera®.

    ‘Depo’ is injected into the muscle every 12 weeks and is designed to prevent pregnancy.

    How does Depo work?

    ‘Depo’ is injected into a muscle every 12 weeks & is slowly absorbed into the blood stream to prevent pregnancy. It is usually injected into your arm or bottom.

    ‘Depo’ is designed to prevent pregnancy by stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg and preventing sperm entering your uterus by thickening the mucus around the cervix (opening to the uterus/womb).

    When ‘Depo’ is first injected it can take up to seven days to start working to prevent pregnancy. This is also the case if you have a break between doses.

    For ‘Depo’ to remain above 96% – 99.95 % effective you need to get an injection every 12 weeks and not be late.


    How well does Depo work?

    ‘Depo’ is 96% – 99.5% effective.

    If you are late having the injection the effectiveness of ‘Depo’ in preventing pregnancy is reduced and may take up to seven days to start working.

    What's good about Depo?

    Advantages to choosing ‘Depo’, include:

    • They are very effective.
    • They are cheap, long acting & last up to 12 weeks.
    • Most women will have no periods or very light bleeding during their periods.
    • Period pain & discomfort may be reduced.
    • It can be used while breast feeding.
    • It is an alternative for those women who cannot have the hormone Oestrogen.

    Are there any side effects from having Depo?

    All women will experience some changes with their bleeding patterns (periods).

    Possible changes to bleeding patterns (periods) include:

    • Periods can stop completely (Approx. 50%-60% of women).
    • Irregular or spot bleeding.
    • Prolonged bleeding (may get better with time).
    • Heavy bleeding.
    • There are medications which may help with this bleeding. Contact your doctor.

    Other side effects include:

    • A reduction in bone density (this returns once you stop ‘Depo’).
    • About 20% women will gain some weight.
    • Headaches.
    • Skin changes.
    • Bloating.
    • Tender breasts.
    • Mood changes

    Can anyone use Depo?

    You may not be able to have a “Depo injection” if you have:

    • Liver disease.
    • Cardiovascular disease.
    • Diabetes.
    • Depression .
    • Difficulty with intra muscular injections.
    • Plans to become pregnant within 6-12 months.
    • Difficulty in tolerating changes in your periods.

    Depo’ is NOT SUITABLE for women who have:

    • An allergy to ‘Depo’.
    • Low bone density.
    • Breast cancer & some other forms of cancer.

    What do I need to get a Depo injection?

    Starting ‘Depo’ for the first time requires an assessment by a doctor and getting a prescription.

    Assessments & prescriptions can be obtained from Family Planning Tasmania (FPT) clinics or your Doctor.

    Once you get the “Depo’ injection from the pharmacy you need to make another appointment with a doctor to have the injection.

    How does Depo get injected?

    Depo is injected by a doctor or nurse into the arm or bottom muscle every 12 weeks.

    How long do the effects of Depo last for?

    It is impossible to reverse the effects of a ‘Depo’ injection once it is given.

    If side effects occur, they may last up to 3 months.

    There could be a delay in return to fertility. On average, the delay is about 9 months from the last ‘Depo’ injection being given.

    What could stop Depo from working?

    For ‘Depo’ to be the most effective you need to get another injection every 12weeks. If you are more than 14 weeks late the injection may not work.

    Is Depo safe if you are breast feeding?

    ‘Depo’ can be used while breast feeding

    What else do I need to know?

    At your assessment the doctor will assess your suitability for ‘Depo’.

    A pregnancy test is usually carried out during the initial assessment.

    The first injection is usually given during the 1st five days of your menstrual
    period. This is to ensure that you are not pregnant.

    In some cases it is necessary to use condoms for seven days post injection.

    Your Doctor will review your risks for loss of bone density whilst you are using ‘Depo’.

    Follow-up ‘Depo’ injections are given every 12 weeks to continue protection against
    pregnancy. To renew your prescription you will need to be reviewed by a doctor
    every 6 months.

    Where can I get more information, support or advice?

    Family Planning Tasmania has clinics in Glenorchy, Launceston, and Burnie. Click here.

    Any of our Doctors or Nurses can assist you with information or support about Depo, or you can talk to your regular GP.

    You can also download our My Choice App which can help you to be informed and take control of you own sexual health. Go to My Choice

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