What You Need to Know About Pregnancy After Depo-Provera

Signs of pregnancy after Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone) may include missed period, nausea, breast tenderness, and more. Many people are able to get pregnant around 8 to 10 months after their last Depo-Provera shot.

Depo-Provera, an injectable birth control method, is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, with shots just four times per years. Because Depo contains progestin, a synthetic progesterone hormone, it can be hard to know when Depo is out of your system, when ovulation will return, and what to expect when you stop taking it.

This article discusses how Depo-Provera is used, including its common side effects. It also provides information about what happens when you stop the injections and consider pregnancy.

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How Does Depo-Provera Affect Your Body?

Depo-Provera is a hormonal birth control method, so your healthcare provider will make sure it's right for you based on your overall health and the findings of tests and an exam. They may include:

  • Blood pressure check
  • Breast exam
  • Abdominal exam
  • Pelvic exam
  • Pap smear
  • Blood work, if relevant

Starting Depo-Provera

When you start Depo-Provera, you should get your shot during the first five days of your period. This ensures you are not pregnant when you get the shot. If you get the shot at any other time in your cycle, you should get a pregnancy test first.

If you receive your first shot during the first five days of your period, Depo-Provera will provide immediate pregnancy protection. You won't need to use a backup birth control method.

When Should You Get a Depo-Provera Shot?

You will need a medical exam before starting Depo-Provera, and you should get your first shot during the first five days of your period. This will ensure immediate pregnancy protection.

Side Effects of Depo-Provera

Before starting Depo-Provera, it is important to discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider to be sure you understand its effects on your body. These may include:

  • Bleeding and spotting, which may be irregular or prolonged
  • Bone density loss, with an increased risk of bone fracture while taking Depo-Provera
  • Weight gain, adding to the importance of healthy lifestyle choices like exercise
  • Depression, which affects about 9% of people who use this form of birth control

You can stop using Depo-Provera at any time by simply not getting the next shot.

Because Depo-Provera may cause bone density loss, you should not use it for more than two years. Discuss other birth control options with your healthcare provider at that time.

Depo-Provera may cause side effects like prolonged bleeding and weight gain. These side effects are reasons why many people stop using Depo-Provera. More serious side effects may also occur.

How Long Does It Take to Ovulate After Depo-Provera?

Each Depo-Provera injection lasts about three months. If you decide to get pregnant after stopping Depo-Provera, you will need to plan ahead. The manufacturer says most people who try to get pregnant after using Depo-Provera do so within 18 months after their last shot. 

Ovulation is when you release an egg each month and are able to become pregnant. It takes an average of six months or more to regain fertility and begin ovulating after stopping Depo-Provera.

Signs of Ovulation

It will take several months for ovulation to return once you stop taking Depo-Provera. You can watch for signs of ovulation including:

  • Bloating and/or abdominal pain
  • Changes in cervical mucus
  • Changes in your basal body temperature

Apps and at-home ovulation tests can help you to keep track of signs and symptoms, or test for a rise in luteinizing hormone (LH) that occurs right before ovulation.

Getting Pregnant After Depo-Provera

It can be hard to know when Depo is out of your system. Fertility will return once you've stopped using the injections but it will take roughly seven to 10 months for you to start ovulating.

For most people, getting pregnant after Depo-Provera will take time. You should stop receiving your Depo injections about one year before you want to become pregnant.

It is possible for fertility to return once your last Depo shot has worn off, though, so watch for signs of a possible pregnancy.

When Will You Get Pregnant After Depo-Provera?

Some estimates say 50% of people who stop using Depo-Provera will get pregnant within 10 months, but how long it takes for ovulation to return depends on factors that include weight, age, and the dosage level. One study found the average time was 170 days (five to six months) for people taking the 45 milligram (mg) dose, and 226 days (more than seven months) with a 75 mg dose.

Signs of Pregnancy After Stopping Depo-Provera

You'll want to watch for signs of pregnancy after Depo-Provera injections have stopped. Early signs of pregnancy include:

  • Missed period
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness
  • Frequent urination
  • Mood changes
  • Diet and appetite changes
  • Headaches and nasal congestion

If you suspect you may be pregnant, arrange for an at-home test or check with your healthcare provider to find out if that's the case.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

It's a good idea to discuss your plans with a healthcare provider when you are considering pregnancy or stop taking Depo-Provera for another reason, like needing to switch birth control methods.

If you do want to become pregnant, your healthcare provider can help you to plan ahead and build up your overall health with prenatal vitamins, weight loss, smoking cessation, and other steps.

When you've stopped taking Depo-Provera but feel you're still not ovulating, be sure to schedule an appointment. That's especially true if:

  • Your cycles are still irregular two years after your last injection
  • You don’t conceive within 12 months of ovulation returning (or 6 months if you're age 35 or older)
  • You have other risk factors or signs of a possible fertility problem

Can Depo-Provera Cause Infertility?

Taking Depo-Provera does not usually lead to permanent or long-term infertility. It's normal for people taking the shots to not have their periods, and there typically is a delay in the return of ovulation once you've stopped taking the shots.

But the infertility that Depo-Provera causes is a temporary feature of elective birth control. In most cases, the common signs of ovulation return, and infertility does not last more than two years.


Depo-Provera is an injectable birth control method. It is taken four times a year. Before starting Depo-Provera, it is important to have a health exam.

Side effects of this form of birth control include weight gain and spotting or prolonged bleeding. These are some of the reasons why people stop using Depo-Provera. In most cases, though, bleeding will stop after one year.

Stop using Depo-Provera one year before you want to become pregnant.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Family Physicians. Depo-Provera: An injectable contraceptive.

  2. Spevack E. The long-term health implications of Depo-ProveraIntegr Med. 2013;12(1):27-34.

  3. Singata-Madliki M, Carayon-Lefebvre d'Hellencourt F, Lawrie TA, Balakrishna Y, Hofmeyr GJ. Effects of three contraceptive methods on depression and sexual function: an ancillary study of the ECHO randomized trial. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2021;154(2):256-262. doi:10.1002/ijgo.13594

  4. Pfizer. Depo-Provera.

  5. Owen M. Physiological signs of ovulation and fertility readily observable by womenLinacre Q. 2013;80(1):17-23. doi:10.1179/0024363912Z.0000000005

  6. Halpern V, Fuchs R, Brache V, Bahamondes L, Miranda MJ, Lendvay A, et al. Suppression of ovulation and pharmacokinetics following subcutaneous administration of various doses of Depo-Provera®: a randomized trial. Contracept X. 2021 Oct 2;3:100070. doi:10.1016/j.conx.2021.100070.

  7. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Infertility.

Additional Reading

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.