3 Types of Birth Control Shots

A birth control shot will deliver hormones into your body by an injection. Depending on which contraceptive injection you have, pregnancy protection can range from 30 days to 14 weeks. Injectable birth control methods are also reversible and require a prescription.

Who Can Get the Shot

The birth control shot is a hormonal contraceptive. Because of this, if you have certain health issues, the birth control shot may not be a safe contraceptive option. Talk to your doctor—the two of you can decide if injectable birth control is the way to go.

Where It's Available

Not all of the birth control shot options are available in the United States.

In fact, only the birth control shot that you can get in the US is the Depo Provera injection.

The other injectable birth control options are available to those who live in Latin and Central America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. In any case, let's take a quick look at birth control shot options that are out there.


There are three types of birth control shots. They differ by availability, type of hormones, and how long they provide pregnancy protection.

Depo Provera Birth Control Shot

Teenager receiving contraceptive injection.
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

The Depo Provera birth control shot is also known as DMPA. Each injection delivers the progestin, medroxyprogesterone and lasts for about 12 weeks. In order to have continuous pregnancy protection, you must get your Depo shot every three months. This injectable birth control method works by thickening cervical mucus and stopping ovulation. There are two versions available—the Depo-Provera shot and the newer version, Depo-subQ Provera injection.

Depo-Provera is very effective at preventing pregnancy and it has also been FDA-approved to help treat endometriosis. But, there can be side effects that last the entire 12 week period—there is no way to know ahead of time if you will have any of these side effects.

The Depo Provera birth control shot also has a black-box warning because Depo shot use can lead to possible bone loss.

Combined Contraceptive Injections

These birth control shots are very similar to combination birth control pills. Combined contraceptive injections have a combination of estrogen and progestin. You must remember to get your combination birth control shot every 28 to 30 days (basically, once every month) since these shots help to prevent pregnancy for about 30 days. Combined monthly injectable birth control contains less progestin than Depo-Provera and Noristerat—this can result in more regular bleeding (and fewer bleeding side effects) than with the other birth control shots. There are two types of combined contraceptive injections and you cannot get either of them in the United States:

  • Cyclofem (this used to be sold in the United States under the name Lunelle)
  • Mesigyna

Noristerat Birth Control Injection

The Noristerat birth control shot is a reversible, short-term, prescription birth control method. It is a progestin-only injectable birth control method and is not available in the United States. The Noristerat shot must be injected into the muscle of the buttock. It slowly releases progestin into your bloodstream for eight weeks – providing pregnancy protection for up to two months.

Because this birth control shot is meant for short-term use, you can only have one more Noristerat injection once your initial eight weeks are over. The Noristerat injection's advantages, disadvantages, and effectiveness are very similar to Depo-Provera.

Male Birth Control Shot - On the Horizon?

There are many men who would welcome a new birth control option— other than condoms or having a vasectomy. In clinical trials, some male birth control shots (like RISUG and Vasalgel) are showing very promising results. These contraceptive injections are reversible, non-hormonal, have few side effects, and can last up to ten years. But these birth control shots are not available right now. They may become a reality sometime in the future. Unfortunately, male birth control shot research is expensive. The high costs are stopping many developers from trying to create these new male methods.

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