Known as Depo, deepa, the shot, the needle
Medical names Depo Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA), Depo Provera® (brand), Depo Ralovera® (brand)
Effectiveness 96%
It lasts 12 weeks
Fertility Ovulation generally returns by 6 months after the injection but can take up to 8 months
Who can use it? Most people with a vagina and uterus. The needle is small and is injected into the muscle of one of the buttocks or the upper arm
Hormones Contains progestogen hormone
Visibility Very discreet but requires three monthly appointments
STIs No protection
Side effects Irregular/unpredictable bleeding, bleeding, no bleeding, headaches, breast tenderness, mood changes, weight gain, acne. Allow 6 months to adjust to hormones
Cost Between $7 and $40 for a 12 week dose depending if you have a Health Care card or Medicare card. Additional costs for appointment
Where to get it Visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor. You may need to visit a pharmacy to pick up a prescription


Contraceptive Injection

The contraceptive injection is a small dose of hormone injected into the gluteal muscle (buttock).





Contraceptive Injection

How does it work?

The contraceptive injection prevents pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the mucus of the cervix stopping sperm to entering the uterus.

Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DPMA) is a hormone similar to progesterone. The name is often shortened to Depo. One injection contains enough hormones to work as a contraceptive for 12 weeks. 

The contraceptive injection does not protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), so you should still continue to use condoms to protect yourself from these. 


What’s it like to use?

The needle is small and is injected into the muscle of one of the buttocks or the upper arm, much like an immunisation/vaccination. The pain from the injection does not last long. 

No one will be able to tell you have had the contraception injection. This can be a good method for people who need their contraceptive method to be highly confidential. 

Menstrual periods are likely to stop but you may experience some unpredictable bleeding. It will feel similar to a menstrual period but the flow is usually lighter.


What if I forget about it?

For it to be effective you need to remember the correct date for the next injection, and you need to book the appointment in advance. This method is only 94-96% effective because people often forget or delay the appointment. 

If you are unable to get an appointment at the appropriate time, consider using another contraceptive method such as condoms, as you may start ovulating beyond 12 weeks of the initial injection.


Who can use it?

The contraceptive injection is not recommended as the first choice of contraception to women under 18 or over the age of 45. This is because of the effect it has on bone density. You can speak to your healthcare provider about whether the contraceptive injection is a suitable method for you.

The contraceptive injection is suitable for people who have never been pregnant, and for use as contraception after pregnancy. 

If you experience polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or if you are close to menopause, progestogen only contraceptives may be less suitable. Consider non-hormonal contraceptive methods or hormonal methods that also contain oestrogen. 

It may not be suitable for people with liver disease and should be discussed with your medical practitioner. 


Side effects

During the first 6 months your body may take time to adjust to the hormones. 

The most commonly reported side effect is changes to bleeding patterns. The most common effect is amenorrhoea (no bleeding at all). People who use this method can also experience frequent or prolonged bleeding.  

Users may also experience a slight loss in bone mineral density. Adult users regain their bone mass density when they stop using this method. Your healthcare provider can discuss the risks, advantages, and disadvantages about this method with you prior to prescribing the contraceptive injection.   

Side effects can also include headaches, breast tenderness, mood changes or acne. Body weight may also increase for some users alongside hormonal changes. weight gain is more likely if you are overweight prior to using the contraceptive injection. Learn more about your reproductive organs and sexual health and hormonal contraceptives. 

If at any point you feel that this contraceptive method is making you feel uncomfortable or unwell, get advice from a doctor or medical professional. If it is an emergency, call an ambulance on 000. 


How and where to get it

At most reproductive and sexual health clinics you can have a health assessment and be given a contraceptive injection all on the same day. 

The injection price will be between $7 and $40 depending on whether you have a Health Care Card. There may also be consultation fees. You can ask for a quote when you book an appointment. 

If you are an International Student, your insurance provider can provide details on the health cover you will receive and your options for accessing care. This will depend on your policy and location.


What if you change your mind

The contraceptive injection cannot be reversed once it has been given. The contraceptive effect of the injection will last at least 12 weeks and can take between 6-12 months from your last injection for your ovulation to return. In some rare cases (usually with long term use) it may take longer (up to 18 months).

If you decide to stop using the contraceptive injection, visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic to discuss your contraceptive options.


More about hormonesReproduction & Contraception Further Support & Advice