“I Wouldn’t Recommend It to Anyone”: What We Can Learn from Women who have had Bad Experiences with Depo-Provera

Depo provera
Depo Provera injection / Photo: Ciell (cc)
By Guest Contributor |

By Laura Wershler

Note from OBOS:  In 2009 and again in 2012, Our Bodies Ourselves posted two blog posts on the adverse effects and withdrawal symptoms that some women experience while using or quitting the birth control injection Depo-Provera. The posts generated thousands of comments from women who were having problems with the shot and were desperately seeking help and advice. OBOS invited Laura Wershler, a member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research and editor-in-chief of the society’s blog, to provide an update on what can be learned from the shared comments.

I am not a fan of the contraceptive injection Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, broadly known as Depo-Provera. Response to two posts I wrote for the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) blog about the adverse effects women experience upon quitting this drug confirmed for me that Depo-Provera poses serious risks to women’s health and well-being that have not been adequately addressed by the sexual and reproductive health community. (Please note: I do not speak for the SMCR; my views are my own.)

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Between April 4, 2012, when my post Coming off Depo-Provera can be a woman’s worst nightmare was published on the SMCR blog, and April 14, 2015, when comments closed to both this and a subsequent post, more than 1200 women left comments documenting their negative experiences. The second post was a Q&A with endocrinologist Dr. Jerilynn Prior from the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Ovulation and Menstrual Cycle Research, explaining the adverse effects and offering suggestions to manage the return to ovulatory menstruation. Our Bodies Ourselves also posted two blogs on problems with Depo-Provera: Questions About Side Effects of Stopping Depo-Provera (11/09/09) and Questions Remain About the Effects of Stopping Depo-Provera (3/29/12). The OBOS posts have received over 2000 comments.

In all of these thousands of comments, there were only a very few that shared positive experiences. Many more came from women who had no problems while taking Depo-Provera but were completely unprepared for the adverse effects they experienced upon stopping. As one woman wrote:

It has been one year since I first posted about my “positive” experience receiving my first AND LAST depo shot. I’ve been following these comments religiously and they have been very helpful. Thank you. Here’s how it went for me: Depo Provera was the WORST thing I ever did to my body.

Why do women stop Depo-Provera and what do they experience?

Women decide to stop Depo-Provera because of continual or erratic bleeding, mood issues, loss of sex drive, concern about bone health, loss of health insurance, desire to have a baby, or because, after taking it for 15 or 20 years, their doctors said they should.

Once they stopped taking Depo, many women found that these symptoms intensified and/or they started having new symptoms. The women who commented — from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa — experienced heavy and continuous bleeding, extreme breast tenderness, weight gain, headaches, nausea, extreme mood swings, depression, hair loss, and damaged relationships. Some were frantic about delayed return to fertility, while others, fearful of being pregnant, had taken multiple pregnancy tests.

The short explanation for what they experience is hormonal chaos, an estrogen storm. Dr. Prior explains the endocrinology in the Q&A. Briefly, Depo-Provera suppresses a woman’s own hormones to near menopause levels. Post-Depo, the body works hard to regain reproductive function by overproducing estrogen. Because hypothalamic incoordination delays the return to ovulation, progesterone is not produced to counteract estrogen. Erratic, high, unopposed estrogen causes most of the miserable symptoms.

It was infuriating and heartbreaking to read how women of all ages — from 17 to 56, whether they had taken one shot or used Depo for two, seven, 15, or 22 years — had been adversely affected by these experiences. Some days I couldn’t bear to read another sad story or one more expression of regret. A common refrain was: If I had known then what I know now, I’d never have taken Depo.

To acknowledge and amplify the voices of the hundreds of women who shared their adverse experiences, I presented an analysis of their comments at the 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research in Boston, MA, on June 4, 2015. As I said in my presentation, I believe the provision of Depo-Provera too often fails to honor informed choice or serve women’s health and well-being. I demonstrated this by sharing excerpts from the comments, organized under four main themes.

The Four Main Themes

Theme 1: Uninformed choice

In contraceptive decision-making, informed choice emphasizes that clients select the method that best satisfies their personal, reproductive, and health needs, based on a thorough understanding of their contraceptive options. To make an informed decision, women should also thoroughly understand the implications of using each method.

Comments suggest that although most women had some idea of the side effects they might experience while using Depo-Provera, they were not prepared for the physical and emotional impact of some of these side effects, and none were prepared for what they experienced after stopping.

It was a long seven months… mood swings, depression, tender breasts. I have the info I was given with the first shot, nowhere does it indicate the possible symptoms after quitting the shot.

I am a living nightmare and I feel constantly on edge. How can this injection be legal? I am from the UK and I wasn’t given any serious/rare side effects of this injection. I feel helpless!!!

I asked about side effects and was told they weren’t very prevalent and I may just have some spotting. I had the shot at the end of February 2013. I then proceeded to bleed, at times heavy to the point of gushing, until the middle of June. That is one hundred and sixteen consecutive days, nonstop.

This is terrible and I don’t understand why the facts were not clearly outlined for me. This is serious stuff I would have liked to have considered during my selection process, but was only really told about the benefits of depo and just the bone density side effect and altered cycle.

I now am regretting taking this shot because they warned me about the side [effects] while on the shot but never warned me about what would happen after.

One commenter said:

I read the possible side effects but no one ever takes those serio[u]sly.

Another was accusatory:

To the people who are blaming the doctors, don’t. It is YOUR responsibility to get facts and ask questions before starting a treatment … it does the job, it does what it’s supposed to, so please don’t complain about the minor side effects, rejoice because you did not get pregnant when you didn’t want to be.

The vast majority of women who commented did not consider their adverse effects to be minor, but rather responsible for diminishing their quality of life. One woman, after participating in the discussion, summed up what many of the commentators felt:

I reckon there is far too little information available about this shot, and it is given too freely without the side effects being clearly understood.

Theme 2: Lack of body literacy

Do most girls and women understand how their bodies work? Do most know how a healthy, ovulatory menstrual cycle unfolds? The answer is no. It is common for teenagers to start hormonal birth control before their reproductive system has matured and before they understand how it works.

As I’ve written in the past, when it comes to body literacy, we are not taught to “read” or understand our own bodies. On the contrary, we are taught to distrust our bodies and accept various artificial means to “manage” them.

Several commenters were prescribed Depo-Provera for menstrual problems such as irregular periods, heavy bleeding, PCOS, or endometriosis. This drug doesn’t cure any of these conditions but may reduce or eliminate difficult symptoms while a woman is using Depo-Provera. Unfortunately, the symptoms may resurface — and possibly increase — when the shot is stopped.

Some women are confused by that old birth control adage — the pill will regulate your cycle — not understanding that while the pill might regulate bleeding episodes, it does nothing to support return to ovulation.

I was on depo for seven years… I stopped in October and started on the pill because I wanted to try and regulate my period as fast as I could, because my husband and I decided to start a family.

And some gynecologists don’t seem to know how to help a young woman achieve fertility in the first place:

When I was 13, I had one dose of the Depo Provera shot and my period has not been normal since. I am now 19 and I can maybe count on two hands how many periods I’ve had in the last six, almost seven years. My gynecologist put me on the birth control pill about three years ago and told me it will run its course and my period will regulate itself, but that’s not the case. I stopped the pill about two years ago. I will bleed on and off from time to time, but it is more like spotting. I like to think my period is going to come and be normal, but it never does.

Many commenters talked about “getting Depo out of my system.” Three months after the last shot, the drug has left a woman’s system. Adverse effects are caused by high and erratic estrogen produced by her own body.

Will the bleeding ever stop? Is it just the depo working its way out of my body? Why is this occurring and will regular birth control daily pills help regulate the bleeding?

It just seems you have to play the waiting game for this stupid thing to get out of your system.

The mood swings were unbearable though. I had horrible fatigue and felt depressed all the time, like not wanting to go out or do anything. Also very tearful all the time. I went to the doctor and told her all my symptoms, she said I would have to wait for it to leave my system.

Theme 3: Feelings of fear, anger, regret, betrayal, and solidarity

It was hard for me to read and absorb, week after week, women’s emotional responses to their experiences with Depo-Provera.

They expressed fear:

Now I would like to go to a doctor and get a second opinion but right now I don’t have the money. I mean I’m really scared that the depo shot screwed me up so bad that I can’t have more children.

I don’t know when the bleeding is going to stop. I don’t know if I am going to go back to normal. I’m freaking out. Nervous. Scared. My fiance and I want another baby so bad. Nobody told me that the depo would do this. I will never take another BC ever again.

Here is what is killing me… I’m terrified that I am now infertile.

Anger was common:

The shot has been one of the worst things to happen to me and I’m so angry that I’m the one who decided to do this! It has [affected] the way I see myself as a mother.

I’m angry at the lack of education behind this inconspicuous injection. Had I known half of the stuff I know now I would never have walked into that room.

I’m angry that I ever accepted Depo into my body and now I’m angry to have to wean myself off. Is it heroin we’re talking about or birth control? I’m not looking forward to [the] next few months of getting Depo out of my system and finding a new birth control that isn’t made by corporate America. But I do appreciate this site and the information. Life could be worse but good luck if you think Depo is the bee’s knees.

Regret? Yes:

I am so not having fun and I think depo provera is the cruelest thing your doctor will convince you to do. Hate hate hate hate hate. Curse it to hell. I’d rather be pregnant six times over that go through this again.

I regret taking this shot and I feel like a complete idiot for doing it!!

Wish I never would’ve done that to my body. I’m so messed up because of this shot. I’m calling my doctor Monday. Yeah, the shot was 100% effective of preventing pregnancy. But honestly it’s not worth it! I would have rather gotten pregnant.

Women also spoke to each other in solidarity:

Who the hell put this drug on the market? Because I would very much like to put them on Depo Provera and see all the debilitating symptoms start affecting their work and personal life the way it has for all of us. I’m terrified of starting another birth control now.

No more hormones for me. The depo is a nightmare that I have yet to wake from. Think wisely my naive ladies. Be strong, my ladies in suffering. We suffer together, mostly in silence, but we are together and will win this battle. There is an end.

These comments also carry a sense of betrayal, in part a betrayal of their bodies, but also betrayal by the health-care providers who recommended or prescribed Depo-Provera and now can’t seem to help them understand or manage the adverse effects of stopping the drug.

Theme 4: Frustration with health-care providers

The second comment to my first post was from holistic reproductive health-care practitioner Amy Sedgwick:

It is amazing to me how often the repercussions of coming OFF hormonal drugs is overlooked by women’s doctors and how rarely women are forewarned of these issues.

It was obvious from women’s comments to the first post that most were getting little useful assistance from their doctors. This prompted the second post with Dr. Prior’s advice on how women might help their doctors help them. Dr. Prior and I both replied to many women, referring them back to the resources and information in that post.

How did commenters express their frustrations?

The doctors and specialists don’t have the answers, only a bill to pay on the way out of the door which just makes me feel even more sick!

I would never recommend this drug to anyone ever! The stupid doctors don’t tell you what the real facts and dangers are of this drug.

I was never told the facts by my GP that it may take up to two years to become pregnant after coming off depo provera. As a nurse I would say that it most certainly should have been the doctor’s responsibility to discuss this with me.

I went to the doctor about all my symptoms and it’s so sad how the doctor was saying it was not because of the depo when I never had these symptoms before.

The sad part is WOMEN have to go to blogs to figure out what’s going on because docs don’t give us the right info.

My ob, who administered the drug, doesn’t know a thing about my symptoms. Shouldn’t they know all the ins & outs of this drug?

To say it has been a nightmare is letting it off lightly, it has almost driven me insane, to the point of considering if life was even worth living. The ongoing breast pain, on and off swelling, sweating, insomnia, weight gain etc the list goes on. I went to specialists, doctors, family contraception centers and no one could help me.

What Can Be Done?

Are sexual health clinics anywhere doing a better job of serving women who have stopped Depo-Provera than the health care providers of the women who shared their stories? What can health care providers do better or differently to lessen the negative impacts of this contraceptive?

  1. Tell women exactly how Depo-Provera works and what to expect when they stop taking it. Tell them that their own hormone levels will become almost as low as in menopause and that upon stopping the drug they may experience extreme symptoms related to hormonal imbalance.
  2. Offer a Buyer Beware advisory for women considering Depo-Provera. In 2013, I took a contraceptive counselling course that used the book Managing Contraception on the Go by Mimi Zieman and Robert Hatcher. I found it interesting that the manual included a Buyer Beware advisory for only one contraceptive, Fertility Awareness Methods:
    The 5 "Rs" of Fertility Awareness
    If Fertility Awareness Methods require such a notice then why not the contraceptive shot? The five R’s of Depo-Provera would be:
      • Restrictions to sexual activity may occur due to continual bleeding, vaginal dryness and/or loss of sex drive.
      • Rigorous daily exercise may not limit weight gain.
      • Required high tolerance for quality-of-life threatening side effects.
      • Risk of pregnancy due to high discontinuation rate among users.
      • Risk of serious adverse effects upon stopping injections.

    Tell women up front, “If you hate it, come back and we’ll find another method that works for you.” A powerful drug requires powerful language.

  3. Use the information in Stopping Depo-Provera: Why and What to do About Adverse Effects to develop a treatment protocol. Every sexual health clinic or health-care practitioner who provides the contraceptive shot is obligated to educate themselves about adverse effects. Those who provide Depo-Provera must be the ones who support women through their post-Depo experiences, or they should refer women to someone who can.

If you can’t do 1, 2 and 3, consider whether you should be providing Depo-Provera to anyone.

What can we learn from women who share their bad experiences with Depo-Provera?

The contraceptive injection Depo-Provera is causing baffling, quality-of-life threatening adverse effects for many women. Their expressions of fear, anger, regret, and frustration must be heard, acknowledged, and acted upon. Women considering or prescribed Depo-Provera deserve concrete and comprehensive information about the effects they might experience both while taking Depo-Provera and after stopping it, as well as full support from their health care providers to understand and manage the return to regular ovulatory menstrual cycles. Providers unable to meet these criteria should not administer Depo-Provera.

We invite women to continue to share their experiences with Depo-Provera in the comments below.

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51 Comments

  1. Sara Sezun says:

    Given the dangers of hormonal birth control, why not just encourage more use of condoms? They’re still the safest contraceptive method.
    Given conventional medicine can’t seem to help women who used Dapo-Provera, maybe women should try other modalities, such as acupuncture or homeopathy.

    • OBOS says:

      All hormonal methods of birth control aren’t the same, and despite problems with some, most are considered very safe, and can have health benefits. A great site to find out about the pros and cons of all birth control methods is Bedsider, https://bedsider.org/.

  2. Shari Ritter says:

    I volunteered for DES action in Canada for many years . With a group of advocates we met with the Minister of Health Jake Epp, it was not approved then but then approved 20 yrs later.
    http://www.theinterim.com/issues/society-culture/canada-to-approve-depo-provera/print/

    Now I have another women’s issue: please review literature on the deleterious consequences of fossamax/ biphosphnates . There are two class action suits, one in us and one in Canada- patrons todos of the jaw and spontaneous femur fractures.
    I fractured my humerus 6 mths ago and still not healed. Ortho surgeon agrees that it may be due to biphosphnates sitting in my bone preventing bone growth and I am DES exposed and took fossamax for 12 yrs

    • OBOS says:

      Thanks Shari. And yes, while we have been following the adverse effects of bisphosphonates some (see bit.ly/OBOSBisphosphonate) but definitely need to look into the latest research — will put it on the list!

  3. Marie Onerheim says:

    Contraception when you are fertile and the “bio identical hormones” after menopause. Women have been subjected to a widespread experiment on their bodies. Men would not tolerate it.

  4. Carrie Lynne Rounds says:

    After 20 years as a sexual health education specialist, sharing knowledge with young women about their bodies and all birth control options, including the risks of using depo, I chose this option to relieve severe cramping and just received my second shot. I’m 49 years old, not in menopause yet, and for the past 20 years since getting off the pill I suffer extreme, debilitating cramps every 28 days. I’ve gotten a uterine ablation, checked for endometriosis, and still suffered three days out of each month with pain that no meds could relieve. The options presented to me were either hysterectomy or Depo. I feel like I betrayed my education and my body but I couldn’t suffer anymore. So far the side effects for me are mood changes and breast tenderness but I’m not cramping anymore so I consider it a trade off. The plan is to leave me on depo until menopause takes care of my cramps but now I wonder how I will even know when that is and how am I going to feel when I stop.

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Hi Carrie Lynne, Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s unfortunate you’ve found no pain relief over the last two decades. If Depo-Provera gives you some relief, then it may be worth it, even without answers to the questions you pose about the future.

  5. Kassie says:

    I am 18 and I quit the depo 2 days ago and I am terrified I am already feeling pain! I can tell that I did not do the right thing by getting the depo, my family has said this is just the start, well I don’t want to see what is coming in the future for me, I just feel like crying honestly, I was only told about the benefits, what they failed to mention is that I would gain weight(aka 20 to 30 lbs), I think that this drug should be banned all across the world!

  6. Brandy says:

    This shot has ruined my life for 18 years!! I’m sick (feel like I have morning sickness during my ovulation & period) 26 days out of the month. I have been diagnosed with pms and pmdd, Drs just keep wanting to put me on antidepressants!! The only thing that makes everything depressed is how sick my hormones make me!! I NEVER did this before the shot. I’m at the point of wanting to commit suicide because I still have at least 12 more years to go before I hit menopause & I no longer have a life, I just exist. I sit at my home & watch others living their lives on Facebook or tv and I break down in tears!! I wish I knew the dangers before taking it but my dr said there were no bad side effects.

  7. Alegra L., Health Coach says:

    I am one more case of regretting depo-provera. I was an uninformed high schooler in the 90s who wanted to “forget about my period” as a benefit to birth control. I had one and only one shot. Increased pain when I was supposed to be menstruating & extreme emotions are what I remember. What a mistake!

  8. Callan says:

    I have one more month until this shot wears off and honestly I’m praying I make it.i have no idea what to do about the side effects I’m experiencing. I have absolutely NO appetite…I feel as though I am anorexic and being as I had a baby just four months ago I’m scared I might lose the weight too fast and ruin my body. Also I cannot stop snapping at my husband Im not even sure if he wants to be with me after these two months,I’m not being dramatic it’s THAT BAD. Not to mention my poor daughter is only five and like I said the other one is four months and I find myself SCREAMING at them because I cannot control my emotions. Then I go lock myself in my room because I feel that’s better than flipping out on everyone I feel like a terrible wife and mother and iv had depression in my teenage years so I know that it is returning.Iv asked myself several times how I’m gunna make it I’m weak, nauseous, I have so much diarrhea that I have diaper rash from using the bathroom so frequently. So far iv been bleeding for two weeks…I feel as though I’m slowly being poisoned and there is nothing I can do about it iv called my doctor three times and he never had any answeres as to how to help I just want HELP I don’t wanna be this person I absolutly hate my life I dread going to sleep because when I wake up I am dripping sweat and freezing. The first two hours of my day every day I feel like I drank battery acid my stomach feels like it is eating itself I make myself eat but I gag the whole time. Eating has never been a problem for me iv always taken great care of myself so I have to say this is one of the biggest regrets of my life.

  9. Andrea says:

    Everyone that’s written about a bad experience, I’m experiencing it right now. I literally feel my life falling apart. When does it end ?!??? Serious question 🙁
    Help

  10. J-to says:

    I’ve taken it on and off for 8 years; I was an bottomed out alcoholic for several years and felt a little bit safer that I was less likely to bring a helpless child into the world with FAS.

  11. Amber says:

    I was on Depo for almost 10 years. During the time, I was on it. I never had any issues. However, I decided to stop so I can start a family. Now, I have increased anxiety and moodiness. My breast are extremely tender, I usually get a week or so off, where they feel normal. Been almost 4 months since I stopped and still haven’t had a cycle. I believed Depo was a great shot when I was on it, but now I have buyers remorse at using it. My doctor has nothing to say other than, it my issues could be hormone surges and some women have taken as long as 18 months to get back to normal. If this is the case, then why do they immediately go to this option for women?

  12. Ashley says:

    23 months ago I took the depo shot and only one. Since then I have had irregular periods ever sine until now. Last night my husband and I had intercourse and I woke up this morning covered in blood and I have been bleeding heavy all day. The cramps are strong and painful. I have had six children in the last 11 years and my husband and I have been trying to conceive another. Never had trouble before. I think its the depo shot. But why now ? Why so heavy? So painful.

  13. Valerie DeWitt says:

    My advice to anyone considering taking Depo and/or anyone considering quitting: BEWARE.

    In my teens and early 20s my period was so painful, with cramps and back aches that left me with tears in my eyes, nauseous on the floor, praying for it to pass. When I was younger I took the pill, but hated the discipline and management needed to take a daily pill at the same time everyday, and I was worried about weight gain.

    Around 20 or 21 years old I began taking Depo, with the only precaution being “possible bone loss” described to me as something I would encounter way, WAY, in the future, and, hey! I could take a caramel-flavored chew for that (as simple a response as “hey, there’s an app for that!”) so I barely batted an eye when getting on board with depo.

    No daily pills? Check. No periods? Check. No cramps and awful back pains? Check. No pregnancy on top of all those perks?? Check! Count me in. AND, not likely I’d gain weight?! Oh, hell yeah!!! Sign me up!!!

    Now, don’t get me wrong, my experience ON depo was great, and all those things I just “checked” off? Yep, I enjoyed them. But, OFF depo? If I had it to do again, never would I EVER have taken it.

    January of this year (2016) I got my last depo shot. I had new insurance and therefore a new doctor, and after finding out I’d been on depo for well over 7 years, she said she’d give me one last shot and then I needed to decide on a new birth control. She was not comfortable issuing me more than one last dose as it appeared I may have been on depo as long as or longer than 10 years.

    At the time I wasn’t seeing anyone and thought my body may deserve a break so why not go off it for a while? If I get back to having an intimate relationship maybe I could try an IUD like she suggested. I had no idea what was to come.

    At the time of my last shot (Jan ’16), I already felt overweight, not for my height I guess but for my normal body – 5’6″ and 145 lbs. Now, October ’16, 6 months since the medicine “should’ve” started wearing off, I’m 163. I had to buy new clothes. I feel like a stuffed sausage. Worse than the weight though, through the spring months I encountered the worst depression I have EVER encountered, thinking every day was my last because I dreamed, fantasized even, about taking my own life on the regular – I have never experienced a sadness like this, the sadness can’t be put into words. Thank god for Prozac. Ugh.

    Shoot forward to now, I haven’t changed my eating patterns or exercise patterns compared to that of when before I gained this nearly 20 pounds in just a few short months, if anything i eat less, yet I still continue to gain weight. I’m exhausted. My boobs hurt so bad and nipples are so hard all the time I feel like I should audition for a porn. It’s literally painful to touch then anytime, a shower hurts, and taking my bra off and slipping even the comfiest shirt/tank on at the end of the day kills. It’s ridiculous.

    My new doctor said I’m likely ovulating, but had no projection as to when I may get my period back; I hurt, I’m uncomfortable, and I’m sick of this “ish.”

    If anyone has something they recommend instead of depo I’m all ears ! Hopefully I helped some woman with my story. Best of luck!!!

  14. Valerie DeWitt says:

    My advice to anyone considering taking Depo and/or anyone considering quitting: BEWARE.

    In my teens and early 20s my period was so painful, with cramps and back aches that left me with tears in my eyes, nauseous on the floor, praying for it to pass. When I was younger I took the pill, but hated the discipline and management needed to take a daily pill at the same time everyday, and I was worried about weight gain.

    Around 20 or 21 years old I began taking Depo, with the only precaution being “possible bone loss” described to me as something I would encounter way, WAY, in the future, and, hey! I could take a caramel-flavored chew for that (as simple a response as “hey, there’s an app for that!”) so I barely batted an eye when getting on board with depo.

    No daily pills? Check. No periods? Check. No cramps and awful back pains? Check. No pregnancy on top of all those perks?? Check! Count me in. AND, not likely I’d gain weight?! Oh, hell yeah!!! Sign me up!!!

    Now, don’t get me wrong, my experience ON depo was great, and all those things I just “checked” off? Yep, I enjoyed them. But, OFF depo? If I had it to do again, never would I EVER have taken it.

    January of this year (2016) I got my last depo shot. I had new insurance and therefore a new doctor, and after finding out I’d been on depo for well over 7 years, she said she’d give me one last shot and then I needed to decide on a new birth control. She was not comfortable issuing me more than one last dose as it appeared I may have been on depo as long as or longer than 10 years.

    At the time I wasn’t seeing anyone and thought my body may deserve a break so why not go off it for a while? If I get back to having an intimate relationship maybe I could try an IUD like she suggested. I had no idea what was to come.

    At the time of my last shot (Jan ’16), I already felt overweight, not for my height I guess but for my normal body – 5’6″ and 145 lbs. Now, October ’16, 6 months since the medicine “should’ve” started wearing off, I’m 163. I had to buy new clothes. I feel like a stuffed sausage. Worse than the weight though, through the spring months I encountered the worst depression I have EVER encountered, thinking every day was my last because I dreamed, fantasized even, about taking my own life on the regular – I have never experienced a sadness like this, the sadness can’t be put into words. Thank god for Prozac. Ugh.

    Shoot forward to now, I haven’t changed my eating patterns or exercise patterns compared to that of when before I gained this nearly 20 pounds in just a few short months, if anything i eat less, yet I still continue to gain weight. I’m exhausted. My boobs hurt so bad and nipples are so hard all the time I feel like I should audition for a porn. It’s literally painful to touch them anytime, a shower hurts, and taking my bra off and slipping even the comfiest shirt/tank on at the end of the day kills. It’s ridiculous.

    My new doctor said I’m likely ovulating, but had no projection as to when I may get my period back; I hurt, I’m uncomfortable, and I’m sick of this “ish.”

    If anyone has something they recommend instead of depo I’m all ears! Hopefully I helped some woman with my story. Best of luck!!!

    • Jo says:

      CONDOMS darlin’ when you have the energy…no matter how desperate you get have faith that ur body is a very complex but strong piece of machinery and when it’s had enough it will shut down and allow you to sleep like sleepin beauty. You may look young,nobody will see how you suffer but my god the body will feel ancient!!!! And hey you’ve jogged my memory of things that arnt normal but have become the norm. Chin up sweet cheeks x

  15. Jo says:

    HEALTH WARNING FOR YOUNG WOMEN: STEER CLEAR!!!!

    A little about myself and backgroud : At age 19 after my son was born I took a contraceptive pill. I felt a bit moody so after my initial 3 months supply I decided not to bother…being married it didn’t matter if I fell pregnant or not. At 39 I had a change in circumstance and at age 40 I decided I should think about contraception… as I wasn’t in the routine of popping a pill everyday I thought I would probably forget and I didn’t fancy a coil but I’d heard about this injection that lasted 12 weeks so I thought this was probably my best option.
    I wasnt given any information apart from I may put on weight….on first injection my periods stopped and I thought WOW this is a godsend and I put on 2 pounds.

    I have questioned over the years could it of been the injection or could it have been a 12 week course of smoking patches??? (they were the only 2 things in my system in a 4 year period that had never been there all my life). I don’t wish to scare or put anybody off a choice they wish to make about contraception after all “it is better to be safe than sorry” and like everything what is “good for one can be rubbish for another” and I’ve always been a “i’ll do what I want it’s my life” kinda person as well haha.

    Now I may get a bit confused with events or timing here as in 2009 9 months after bloods after bloods after bloods all came back CLEAR I diagnosed with CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME which they thort I’d had since 08 but looking back at old pics I think my problems were there in 06 which was 2 years into the injections.

    If started with feeling quite tired and lower back pain, I eventually gave in and went to my GP I had blood tests ALL CLEAR nothing wrong with me.
    I suffered the pain and within 6 months it progressed to what I wouldnt call a headache just a dull ache on the left side of my head which lasted approx 15 mins with a feeling of being very ditzy if not somewhat brain dead, the backache got worse I put on 10lbs in 1 week,my stomach n boobs swelled I looked pregnant but my I had a fantastic set of “double D” boobs for my petite frame :)…so a year after initially going to see my GP I was back to see my GP again she sent me to hospital I had cysts on liver and kidneys…I suffered more pain, I felt more tired and more ditzy then the weight started to drop off me I went back to hospital to get my cysts checked they hadnt disappeared but they hadn’t grown either! LUCKY ME!!!
    I carried on working, I carried on feeling quite ill but I decided not to get the injection again something was causing this and if the injection then surely things would get better.. NO THINGS DIDN’T GET BETTER IT WAS A DOWNWARD SPIRAL!!!!

    I was in agongy, all I wanted to do was sleep, my energy was so low and I had to leave a job I loved and apart from a 6 month bleed 18 months after stopping the injection my periods to date (im probably thro the change of life now) never returned but I never fell pregnant having unprotected sex…hmm if that’s what you could now call it lying there like log not a human!!!!…
    I’d had my family and I didn’t want anymore so for me it didn’t matter if my periods didn’t return but for young people be careful, at 45 tho I would of liked my health back and be the whippet not the snail I’d become.

    I’ve been to hell and back not once but for the last 7 years, I’ve spent 20 hours in a 24 period sleeping, I’ve been stuck in bed for weeks on end, pain has been unbearable as I’ve aquired an intolerance to meds (apart from being able to take 1 over the counter anti nflam no more than 3 times a day and for no more than 3 days…they have become what I call my emergency med’s when I can’t stand anymore) energy levels so low I could hardly feed myself or walk, problems with eyesight, cognitive problems, I’ve had to move into a smaller flat and iv been stuck in the house like a damned recluse since I left work in 09.

    Diagnosed with CFS nothing GP can do for me unless I want anti depressants which have good side effects of insomnia and energy (I tried.. they gave insomnia but did nothing for energy and within 10 mins of taking I cried solid…3 weeks of “the not so HAPPY tablets” took 3 months to get out my system and for my “own humour” to return and get me thro this) also don’t think for one moment it’s been a simple process as a single person having to give up work and diagnosed with CFS claiming UK benefits… FAR FROM IT looked on as a maliger all in the head…I manage on what I get coz I don’t have a LIFE outside of HOME but it doesn’t allow to make my life any easier!
    Can I blame my GP probably not he may not of had all info to hand at the time but some counties have got lawsuits with this pharm comp so who in UK is gonna take up lawsuits for us…they could make a fortune form us less fortunate!!!
    I feel like I’ve been a test dummy to shorten my life and I won’t bow down to more med’s unless I’m dying!!!!!
    It’s taken me at least four hours to write this…PLEASE young girls and young mothers THINK TWICE xx

  16. Tina says:

    Ruined important friendships, made me emotionally unstable, and I attempted to commit suicide the day after my birthday. Yeah, I highly recommend staying away. I read the possibility of depression and increased anxiety level. I made myself aware of the possible side effects. No amount of research could have prepared me for the most difficult 3 months of my life. Seriously, if you think you’ve done enough research and still want to get the depo shot…DO NOT GET IT. Trust me. You do not want to deal with the repercussions. Stick with condoms or regular birth control pills.

  17. Nikki Cunnigham says:

    I was wondering does the depo have anything like the antidpressant properties. Somewhere I read it did. I have bipolar and can’t tolerate any type of antidepressants. I have had three shots and now and it finally stopped my months of bleeding. Although my bipolar was stable and having issues now. Also when I take the shot around week two it make me itch and go numb especially around the mouth. I can deal with it with benadryl but is that safe?

  18. Vanessa says:

    My question is, is there a treatment for any of this? Does it get better? So many people have commented that the symptoms of withdrawal are real, but there is no feedback on treatment or recovery. I had my last injection in February 2016. I was fine the entire time I was on it. Starting in the summer I began having Panic Attacks, Depression, Insomnia, Headaches, Nausea, Leg Pain, Muscle Weakness, you name it. I had my hormone levels drawn and on paper I seem menopausal, but I’m only 29. I’ve seen 2 OBGYN who dismiss the issue, and tried to get in with Endocrinologist, but they said they do not treat hormones. Tomorrow I’m going to see a BioIdentical Hormone Doctor in hopes they can calm the side effects. Has anyone else had these body pains and muscle weakness, and does anyone have any answers. Please?

    • Jo says:

      I have read after 3 years of using that bone loss (osteoporosis) is comparable to that seen in women going through menopause and within 30 months of stopping bone levels return….I would think bone loss could cause pain so could bone returning to normal also be the cause of pain x

      While on the depo did anybody notice if they grew in height… I grew an inch within first year,after coming off the depo I shrunk 2 inches and now i’m back to my orginal height…hmmm!!!!

    • Yas says:

      I’m so sorry that you’re experiencing this but I’m going through some of the same things. I’m 28 and I got my first injection in February of this year also. I only had one more injection in May and bled the whole time so I decided that the May injection would be the last. By June, the bleeding had stopped but there is a strong odor coming from down there, especially after sex. I have a six year old so I know what it feels like to be pregnant and that is exactly how I feel. I get nauseous constantly, my back hurts, my breasts feel engorged, and I feel so weak. I’ve taken numerous pregnancy tests over the span of two months, all negative. I feel insane. I barely sleep. I haven’t gone back to my OBGYN for them to assess anything but as selfish as this is, I’m happy I’m not alone. Well wishes to you and your recovery. I hope we make it out of this nightmare soon.

    • Yolette Inskip says:

      Search for “A Wake-up Call about Depo Prevera” on the internet. This letter explains in detail how the injection can cause chronic backache and render one handicapped as a result of pain. I am in a similar boat. After my third injection my lumbar vertebrae area is almost in continual pain. I cannot walk the dog, cycle or participate in my much loved aerobic classes at the moment. I have been reduced to moving in the pool on a noodle just over a period of a month. The pool, however, is proving to be my saving grace as being weightless in water allows me to run, walk and jump in the pool, all exercises that strengthen essential lower back muscles weakened by depot prevera.

  19. KG says:

    I am 2 and a half months in to my first shot and I had no idea I could experience so many side effects, the worst of it is night sweats, waking up 2-4 times a night, trouble sleeping, non stop spotting (for over 2 months now), no sex drive, and mood swings. I was not informed properly of the side effects and told that at most I would probably just experience spotting. This is definitely the worst thing I have ever done to my body. I am barely functioning with the lack of sleep, it has affected my work, my relationship, I don’t even feel like myself anymore. I am scared to find out what the withdrawal effects might be. Is there some way to report side effects so that the FDA has a better understanding of how many women are affected by this drug?

  20. Steph says:

    I was using seasonique (which I loved) but had painful “mini periods” if I skipped even 1 pill. I was told depot shot would be a good option and there could be some unpleasant side effects like weight gain but to not worry because they’re “pretty rare.” 1 day after my 1 and only shot, I had woke up with an EXCRUCIATING headache, major joint pain, severe depression…No period or spotting at all. Exactly 1 year later I had my first period (usual, normal, no problems) then 2 weeks later got it again and it hasn’t stopped since. Every single day since the first week of September I’ve had a constant flow and terrible ovarian pain. PCP has referred to check for PCOS but appointment is next week. Last week it changed to a really heavy, cramping period and hasn’t let up at all. Biggest regret of my life was getting that one shot. The OB/GYN that gave it to me even told me that it’s probably not what was causing my terrible headaches or other symptoms!!!

  21. Veronica de Oliveira says:

    I’ve taken the injection in June, so it suppost to be out of my body by now. But now I’m experiencing horrible Brest pain, mood changes, nausea… just like I’m pregnant, besides the fact that I just friked out thinking I was! Not right! It should be banned!

  22. Cayla says:

    I started the depo shot in June/July of 2015 due to being on the pill and getting pregnant. That ended in a miscarriage and I decided to try a new method. I wanted to try this because after talking to friends and several other people from work, they had successful and positive stories of their experiences. The last shot I received was in January 2016. From the time I started the injection up until now, Dec. 2016, I have bled countless amount of times. From having my “period” for two months, and off for maybe a week then bleed another two months, not having a period for 6-8 weeks and having the pregnancy scare, and so on, I regret ever taking this medication.
    I’ve gone to my doctor about the uprising issue and what did she do? Absolutely nothing! I always got, “just wait it out”, “it’ll stop on its own”, “I don’t know exactly what you mean by the issues, let’s run some labs and other tests.”
    To going to a specialist and getting put back on the pill to regulate me. Always a run around.
    My horomones are ridiculous. Mood swing after mood swing. Anywhere from thinking my boyfriend is the best person in the universe, to wanting to ball my eyes out over the stupidest things, then to wanting to kill every living thing I seen. I yell and scream at my dog, boyfriend, parents, family and friends over the dumbest of things. Then I cry my eyes out over my boyfriend forgetting my order wrong at the drive thru. Never in my life have I ever been like this. I just wish it would end already! Almost a year from my last shot and every time “Aunt Flo” comes for a visit, I think I’m starting to become regular. Jokes on me. I started my period around 11/15/16 and ended on 11/20/16. Everything was fine then I went to the bathroom and wiped only to see a few spots of blood on 11/28/16 and have been on and off bleeding since.
    I will never take the depo provera injection again and I will let others know my story of experience if they tell me they want to try it. I would never recommend this and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.
    I wish this all would end.

  23. Aj says:

    I was on the depo shot for 2 years then I had stopped I had no symptoms at the time. I got pregnant 6 months later with my son! After having my son I had got the depo shot again, now my bones (joints) hurt all the time (knees, wrists) I have lost a lot of my hair it use to be full and now it’s so thin! I also have lost my sex drive 🙁 I wish I would of never got this shot! The only thing it did for me was help me with my skin disease! Other than that it was a horrible decision!

  24. Vickie says:

    I agree that doctors should have to tell people the side effects of being on depo and stopping it. After experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations and other scary symptoms, I went to a doctor – she told me I am breathing wrong, that it is my fault even though this never happened before depo, that there is nothing that can be done to help me and no medication for it…..worst birth control ever! I hope they stop giving it

  25. zurysadai says:

    i had a question i haven’t really experienced some of the situations that has been posted but i am scared i could start experiencing them.. i started the depo-provera right after i gaved birth my doctor said it was the surest thing i could take while i was on the shot i had irregularly periods i would only spot from time to time also i had huge headaches.. me and my husband decided to have another baby so i stopped getting the shot i only took the shot four times and my period hasn’t got normal until last month i was bleeding heavily and i would stain everything that i would wear or sit on but i thought it was regular i thought it was my period getting back to normal it lasted seven days then i got it again the same month and it was heavy again i have concerns if it will get worse or is it something i shouldn’t worry about??

  26. Stephanie says:

    I am also in this camp of anger, regret, and uninformed choice regarding depo. My story is dead similar to the others you’ve noted above. I only did three rounds of shots and I’ve been off it for a year and for four months now, have been getting periods every 12-15 days. Not ovulating, diagnosed with PCOS, gained 20 pounds, mood and depression struggles…all the things. This stuff should be ILLEGAL. I wish there was a class action lawsuit or something I could join to get this off the market. And, it seems you have to google the exact right phrase to find any articles like this to confirm the symptoms and that I’m not a lunatic!

  27. Andrea says:

    I got this shot 3months ago. And I’ve had all the adverse effects since then. Especially the irregular bleeding. It really kills me. I don’t know what is gonna happen when quit the shots. I am so scared. Is there any way that can stop bleeding and back to my normal cycle?

  28. Dawn Foster says:

    I had Depo for contraception for over 20 years and my periods stopped completely.I was advised by my Dr to stop using it because of the health risks due to my age ( 50). Since then,over a year later,I still haven’t had a period and have lost 17 kgs which has now put me underweight at 55kgs.Has anyone else had unexplained weight loss??

    • Edith says:

      I have to say, I am surprised your Dr. Let you take the shot for so long. When I began the shot when it first came out in 2000 , my Dr. Stated you can only take the shot for up to 5yrs then you must get off it to give your body a rest. I am 48 I have been off the shot for 8 yrs. I preferred to have my tubes CLAMPED to avoid the reoccurring adverse effects of the DEPO Shot which has worked very well for me. No pregnancy in 4ys since I had my tubes CLAMPED. No cut, not tied or burnt.

  29. Susie says:

    I have been getting the shot for 12 years; I am getting ready to stop. I would say for the most part I have been very happy with the results. Only within the last few years have I had negative side-effects (extreme dryness is the worst). As I am reading through the post shot side-effects I am scared as heck what might happen. I am in my mid 40’s and there is a good chance I am not “ready” to go through my change of life just yet (unfortunately). Wish me luck, hopefully I will lose the 15 pounds I have gained over the past 12 years and won’t be too awful to my family!

  30. odehlia says:

    i stopped using the injection july 2016. i gained weight always tired and sleep less with still no period and sore breast. is this normal and how long till i get my period back

  31. Tina says:

    VERY bad drug! SHOULD NOT be on the market. I was ill informed by my gyno. Only told to be careful b/c I could experience minor weight gain. I’ve only had 1 shot. it’s been 1 1/2 mos and I’ve already gained almost 20 lbs. I feel VERY emotionally unstable. I have suffer daily with: headaches, joint pain, visual disturbance, EXTREME lethargy, irrational thinking patterns, unquenchable hunger. This is an absolute nightmare and daily I feel like I’m losing my mind. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS DRUG! It clearly is not good for the human body!

  32. Amber Ritchie says:

    I am 28 years old. My husband and i are trying to conceive. I was 5 weeks pregnant with symptoms bad, i went to my dr for a blood test. At 4 weeks it was negative. I recently as of yesterday went to the er to get some answers! I was sick as ever! After several test. I was told my test came back negative and i had already gotten a faint positive on a urine test. A few weeks before. So anyway. The dr told me i had a miscarriage. And i also had a cyst that ruptured and bled out on my left ovary! Ever since i started taking the depo shot i have had reoccurring ovarian cyst. That put me in my bed for a week. It ruptures im sick for a whole day. And then my period hits! Im not taking the depo anymore and haven’t been for about 3 years. Im not infertile but since being off the shot i haven’t been able to conceive. Until now. But my one time of conception. I misscarried! Im still upset. At myself for listening to everyone who said yeah you should get the shot!. I have 2 other children. I missed my shot for 3 months in between my son 11 and my daughter7. I have faith in God. And i know every thing happens for a reason. I just pray he blesses us with another child. To raise in his honor! Is there anything i can do about this?. These cyst cause severe damage to my body. I lost my child bc my system had been poisoned by a ruptured ovarian cyst.

  33. Brittney says:

    I have been on the Depo Shot for about 6 years now, and I loved the idea of not menstruating, but for the last year or so I find that I’m always tired even when I get enough sleep, my body aches waking up in the morning and I can not lose weight to save my life and I am eating well and exercising 4-5 days a week. I have no motivation to want to go hiking or outside anymore and I couldn’t understand why until doing further research. Now after hearing all of this I am nervous to get off the shot but I also want to be able to have another child without complications…..anyone else with similar side effects and how did you cope coming off the shot and doing a different form of birth control?

  34. Amenia Nelson says:

    My daughter has had two larspcopic surgeries for blood clots and lost a tube. She gained a tone of weight overnight. Her mood changed she started to act like a old woman.

  35. Jennifer Tarren says:

    Began shot may 1. 1.5 yrs later, decided to quit. Erratic heavy bleeding and regular nausea and mood swings were not worth it. Next shot scheduled for nov 1. Didn’t get it. Glad I didn’t want kids right away. Beginning of January commenced the 15 months of eternal bleeding (and still counting. Probably had a total of 30-40 days out of 420 not bleeding or spotting. It’s my new normal now, but am not keen on any other hormonal contraceptives. Don’t depo before you know.

  36. Edith says:

    Prior to me getting the Depo Shot and that was back in 2002/2003. I made sure I read all the side effects which were nothing like all the other birth controls. I was on the Shot for 5yrs and gains 15lbs within one yr. I got off the shot for a few yrs then back on to discover later on my hair was thinning out. That side effect was NOT on the box nothing mentioned about your hair thinning out or falling out. In addition, after completely getting off the shot, I got pregnant & had a miscarriage for no apparent reason. It has been 8yrs and the worst part of the adverse side effects is I am constantly feeling pain in my buttocks muscles where I had been given the shot. Unlike others, my shots were on my buttocks and it is a very discomforting feeling especially when I’m wearing a belt. It becomes very painful and an extremely uncomfortable feeling. I don’t know what to do. It scares me.!!!

  37. Kayla says:

    My doctors never warned me about the side effects. They told me that they are just like any other birth control symptoms! After I got off the first brith control the “Nuva ring” I was pregnant with our first a week later. So I thought yeah if it’s like that I should be fine. It’s been 10 months sence I’ve stoped the depo shot and I have not had a period sence I first got pregnant with our son. He’s 2 now. I’m scared that because of the shot I may not be able to have more children. We didn’t want them to be too far apart in age but it may just be that way. I blame the doctors for not being more informed and just telling me that “it’s like any other birth control” when yes in ways it is but no it’s not. It did its job I didn’t get pregnant but now I’m having a difficult time getting pregnant again now that I want to have another. I also blame myself for not doing research. I was concerned more about finding an affordable birth control than being concerned about having more kids.