Depo-Provera Contraception: A Controversial Injection

When I began volunteering for associations that come to the aid of vulnerable people (notably on the street), I came across Depo-Provera. I asked young women about their contraceptive methods, and some talked to me about Depo-Provera.

By Anne Reitzer

Not knowing anything about the injectable contraceptive, I became interested in the product, and learned that it is a controversial product among doctor and gynecologists.

Depo-Provera is a contraceptive given by injection every three months. If its use isn’t widespread among most women, it’s often used by “at risk” women, explains anthropologist Patericia Kaufert: “Women at risk are those who live in the Third World, poor Canadians, indigenous peoples, immigrants, or those who are mentally, physically or morally disabled in the eyes of their community.”  

Depo-Provera is a synthetic hormone, a progestin. It is used for the treatment of some cancers as well as for endometriosis, a chronic gynecological ailment in which the uterine tissue colonizes other organs. This makes for very painful periods.

Depo-Provera is also used for contraception. When injected following instructions, it is 99% effective in preventing pregnancies. Nonetheless, it’s important to know the risks related to this type of injection. According to a 2007 report on Depo-Provera by Laura Shea for the group Women and Health Protection, a coalition that follows and analyzes changes to federal law relating to health, the most frequent side-effects include irregular periods, abdominal pain, weight gain and nervousness.

A Health Canada study reveals that Depo-Provera can cause a major loss in bone mineral density, which increases over the long term and can become irreversible. This can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures.

That’s why it’s important that teens, who are still growing, should be made aware of possible side effects.

When women stop using Depo-Provera it’s usually because of these undesirable side effects.

The side effects of Depo-Provera can last for months even if the user stops getting her injections. That’s why support groups such as Depo-Provera Side Effects Support, on Facebook, includes over 2,800 people, allowing these women to express themselves, to feel understood, and to provide comfort among those facing the same situation.

As with any contraceptive, Depo-Provera has side-effects that can be harsh, or that can be easier to live with.

It’s therefore indispensable to know if this contraceptive method is appropriate for the user. For that’s it’s important that women are followed regularly by a doctor, and that they be made aware of potential side effects!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…

For more information, check out the Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances website:

First seen in: Reflet de société, Vol. 27, no. 2, printemps (spring) 2019, page 18

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