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DMPA contains a progestogen. This
is similar to the hormone
progesterone, which is naturally
produced by the female body. DMPA
is given by injection every 12 weeks
and is slowly absorbed into the blood
stream to prevent pregnancy. Depo-
Provera® and Depo-Ralovera® are
the brand names of DMPA available
DMPA works by:
DMPA is between 99% (only if the
injection is not late and there are no
other reasons why the medication
would be less effective) and 94%
effective. This means that of 100
women using DMPA consistently
over a year, it is possible that 1 to 6
woman may become pregnant. The
99% is only true if you are not late
with the injection.
Most women are suitable, though it is
best between 18 and 50 years of
age. It can be
used while breast feeding – a small
amount of hormone gets into the milk
but does not alter the quality of the
DMPA has few side effects.
However, side effects may include:
The injection is long acting and if
side effects occur they may last up to
3 months (it is not possible to reverse
the effects of an injection once it is
Some side effects (especially bleeding changes) may persist beyond 3 months although there are a number of treatment options available with varying success that may help reduce bleeding problems if they occur.
DMPA use is associated with a slight loss of bone density while using the method. Continuing research studies currently suggest:
Starting DMPA for the first time requires an assessment by a doctor and a prescription.
This assessment enables you to ask any questions you may have and to be certain that it is the most suitable method for you.
The first injection of DMPA is usually given during the first five days of a period. In some cases condoms will need to be used for seven days after the first injection.
It is very important that there is no chance of an early pregnancy at the time of injection as this may lead to a delay in the diagnosis of a pregnancy.
Follow up DMPA injections are given every 12 weeks to continue protection against pregnancy.
If you go beyond 12 weeks from your last injection you may be at risk of pregnancy.
If you aren't certain what to do, seek further advice as soon as possible, particularly if you think you may need Emergency Contraception.
To renew your DMPA prescription you will need to see a doctor for review once a year. A review of risks for loss of bone density (osteoporosis) will take place at this visit.