Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Coming off Depo-Provera can be a woman’s worst nightmare

April 4th, 2012 by Laura Wershler

Need proof that women are sometimes desperate for information and support when it comes to quitting hormonal contraception? You need look no further than the 100 plus comments in reply to an old blog posting at Our Bodies OurselvesQuestions About Side Effects of Stopping Contraceptive Injections.  The comment stream – a litany of woes concerning women’s discontinuation of Depo-Provera – has been active since Nov. 2, 2009.

On March 29, 2012, Rachel, author of the post, wrote a follow-up piece in which she laments: “Although a quick internet search finds many women complaining of or asking about post-Depo symptoms, there isn’t much published scientific evidence on the topic.” Beyond research about bone density and length of time to return to fertility, little is known about the withdrawal symptoms women have been commenting about.

Depo-Provera is the 4-times-a-year birth control injection that carries an FDA “black box” warning that long-term use is associated with significant bone mineral density loss.  Never a fan, I made a case against this contraceptive in a paper for Canadian Woman Studies, published in 2005. The comments on the OBOS post indicate that many women took Depo-Provera without full knowledge of the potential for serious side effects while taking it, or of what to expect while coming off the drug.

Considering that Depo-Provera completely suppresses normal reproductive endocrine function, it is not surprising that many women experience extreme or confusing symptoms once stopping it. Take Lissa’s comment for example, posted on February 21, 2011:

Omg I thought I was tripping. I have been on depo for a year and stopped in jan. My breasts constantly hurt, I put on weight, have hot flashes, and sleeping problems. I pray everyday my cycle returns and stops playing with me. I only spot lightly.

Two and a half years after publication, the original article continues to garner monthly comments. I’ve read most of them and have yet to see one that offers concrete advice or a referral to resources that provide information and support to women looking for both. One such resource is Coming Off The Pill, the Patch, the Shot and Other Hormonal Contraceptives, a comprehensive, clinical-based guide to assist women transition back to menstruation and fertility, written by Megan Lalonde and Geraldine Matus.

Lalonde, a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner, and Certified Professional Midwife, helps women establish healthy, ovulatory cycles after using hormonal contraception. She says that women who’ve used Depo-Provera generally experience the most obvious symptoms and have the hardest time returning to fertility.  She finds that every client’s experience is different and will be affected by the status of their cycles before taking the drug, and their overall health. “It can take time to regain normal menstrual cycles, from a few months to 18 months, in my experience,” says Lalonde. “Some women have minimal symptoms while their own cycles resume, while others might have significant symptoms, including mood changes, unusual spotting and breast tenderness.”

The comments to the Our Bodies Ourselves blog post demonstrate that many women are not finding the acknowledgement and support they need to understand and manage the post-Depo transition. Some are disheartening to read, like this comment by Judy from April 12, 2011, and this recent one posted by Melani on March 21, 2012.

In my last re: Cycling post, I asked for input on the Coming Off the Pill Mind Map I created. I’ll be making a few revisions thanks to the thoughtful feedback readers have provided. I had assumed that this guide would be applicable to all methods of hormonal birth control but, after reading these women’s comments about their Depo-Provera experiences, it appears this contraceptive may require its own branch on the mind map.

  

530 Responses to “Coming off Depo-Provera can be a woman’s worst nightmare”

  1. Women are not aware that Depo Provera is used as a castration drug for chronic sex offenders in Delaware, Texas and other states according to data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    “In Delaware, some convicted offenders have entered programs in which they are treated with medroxy progesterone acetate —- popularly called Depo-Provera. The drug is supposed to reduce both sex drive and sexual fantasies in men who take it. It is the drug that States such as California use for chemical castration.”

    http://holyhormones.com/birth-control/sussex-lawmaker-proposes-chemical-castration/

    If Depo was marketed as a chemical castration drug for chronic sex offenders would women be lining up to get the injection for birth control? I think not.

    No wonder women feel like they are ‘tripping’ when coming off the drug – or are having a hard time with their fertility.

    Was where the informed consent on this medical experiment?

  2. Amy Sedgwick says:

    Thanks for posting this Laura. It is amazing to me how often the repercussions of coming OFF hormonal drugs is overlooked by women’s doctors and how rarely women are forewarned of these issues. While this issue is ubiquitous in my work helping women come off hormonal contraception – so much so that I barely think about it anymore, it was actually driven home for me a few months ago when it impacted my mother. Now 58, she recently passed her five year mark post breast cancer treatment. She was taken off Tamoxifen, which is used to treat estrogen-dependent breast cancer, and within a few days started experiencing unusual symptoms, including extreme fatigue, spotting (she hadn’t had a period in at least two years) and more. She was getting quite frightened until I pointed out the likely connection between the two events – coming off the drug which is both an agonist and antagonist to estrogen-receptors – and experiencing these side effects. She was never warned by a doctor about these potential side effects and she may never have put the two issues together if I hadn’t mentioned it. All this points to the importance of educating women on the natural function of a woman’s reproductive system so that when a woman chooses to start or stop a course of medication that interferes with these functions, she does so with a full understanding of the physiological impacts of doing so.

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Thanks, Amy. It’s interesting how little attention is paid to the “coming off” of medication considering it affects so many people on so many drugs. I’ve heard of the problems people encounter coming off anti-depressants, too. I guess it should be expected that quitting any drug will have repercussions. And we may have to get through some bad times to get to the other side of these drug withdrawals.

  3. Good to see more talk coming out of this.

    If you’re interested in why canadian drug regulation fell through re: Depo-provera, here’s a good read by Women and Health Protection, a now de-funded group that was one of the Centres of Excellence in Women’s Health.

    http://www.whp-apsf.ca/pdf/reflectionsOnDepoProvera.pdf

    Tons of good material on their website as well about women and anti-depressants.

  4. Victoria says:

    Please help me to understand what my body is going through. I was on the depo for 6 months. I have been off of it for about a month and a half now. I still have no period. I have extreme weight gain and just recently started having nipple soreness and nausea. I am sooo afraid I am pregnant that I have taken 4 home pregnancy tests and all of them have come out negative. I have headaches so bad I think they are migranes. I don’t know what to do. I’m so stressed out about all of it. I just want my body back!!!

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Victoria, I am so sorry that you are in such distress. You don’t mention if you have the support of a healthcare professional while going through this tough time. Unfortunately, I am not such a professional. As hard as it is to believe, time will help ease these symptoms. Please be sure to use another method of birth control while your body is getting back to normal. If you were experiencing serious menstrual cycle problems before taking Depo-Provera, you can find information on how to ease many such problems without using hormonal contraception at http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca. Please take care of yourself.

  5. The various responses women are reporting about stopping Depo-Provera are all saying that the upswing (from suppressed) in estrogen levels is causing sore breasts, bloating, weight gain and mood issues. What is happening is that the body needs to “learn how to” get into its cyclic, balanced mode again. That means estrogen levels that are under control because progesterone is there for the last half of the cycle.
    I would ask your family doctor for a prescription for cyclic oral micronized progesterone (Prometrium is the brand name) and take it in a natural way: 300 mg at bedtime starting 14 days after you stop Depo-Provera and then every two weeks until you start to feel back to normal. See the CeMCOR article called “Cyclic Progesterone Therapy” that tells you how and why to do this: http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/help_yourself/articles/cyclic_progesterone_therapy

    Hope this is helpful,
    Jerilynn

  6. Cari says:

    I have been on depo provera for 12 years straight, I just recently decided to get off it for good because for the last 5 years I have noticed a dwindling in my sex drive, which is hurting my relationship. I have only been off of it for 2 months and the side effects are scary. I have had a non stop menstrual cycle, which gets REALLY old. I had very heavy periods, which is why I decided to get on this in the first place. Also, the tenderness of my breasts are insane. I’ve also gained weight, and I thought you were supposed to lose weight after getting off depo. I was warned about the bone loss, but my healthcare providers did not go much into detail about it until they lost their funding and recently switched to a different name. Then when I went in there, the nurse practitioner does not allow women to stay on depo for any long term and really stressed the dangers of staying on it long term. This was the first time I had really gotten the whole story about depo, and it scared me. I know that eventually this will be out of my system, I am just tiring of all the non stop bleeding, breast soreness and headaches. I also hope that my sex drive will return to normal. I have NO desire AT ALL for sex, so I can see where they would use it on men to suppress their urges when it came to rapists/child molesters. I want to be able to have a normal relationship with my fiance.

  7. Laura Wershler says:

    Sorry to hear of your problems coming off Depo. Thanks for sharing your story. I met a woman recently who had been on Depo for almost 20 years. Not sure how this keeps happening that health care providers keep giving women this shot for more than a couple of years. Good luck with your recovery.

  8. Hello Cari – I took the liberty of re-posting Laura’s great article to my blog in April of this year – and over 70 women have now commented on the horrible experience of coming off Depo. Thought you you would like to know you are not alone – and that many are struggling. http://holyhormones.com/womens-health/reproductive-system/infertility/depo-provera-withdrawal-a-womans-worst-nightmare/. Please feel free to add your story. I am also aware that Depo is used for male sex offenders. Am so sorry you are going through this experience.

  9. Lesley says:

    I have been on depo before and in the past a substitute Dr came in one day and asked me how long I was on it. I told him 2 years and he seemed concerned and told me about osteoperosis after long time on it. I got off it. My period came back not too long after. So forward to after giving birth in 2010 my Dr said the best thing is to go back on depo. I had no plans on staying on it for more then 2 years so in June (1 and a half years) I decided to get off the shot. I might want baby #2 so I knew to get off it.. Well I got a period in August. Seemed normal. Then nothing in Sept.. Took preg test negative.. October… nothing… blood test neg… Based on when I got that ONE period at the end of the month it SHOULD be coming back end of the month.. if it doesn’t, it will be 3 MONTHS no period.. What I find odd is that even though I have read about people not getting it for months, mine came and then disappeared!! All PT negative!! So what the hell is going on? The last time I was on depo this never happened.. I cant try to concieve if I don’t have a regular period.. this sucks..

    • Hi Lesley – and others who are experiencing menstrual issues with Depo. What most women do not understand is that synthetic hormones ‘suppress’ or shut down the body’s natural hormone production. Depo is made mostly from a synthetic progesterone so when the body senses there is progesterone present – its natural production of the hormone ceases.

      Another little known fact is that women do not have a ‘period’ on their menstrual cycle. They are experiencing what is known as a ‘chemical bleed’. There is a big difference.

      For some women it is an easy transition back into their natural menstrual cycle. For others it is an arduous process. A woman’s endocrine and immune health have a lot to do with how quickly the body bounces back into its natural rhythm. Other women need to stimulate hormone production with natural progesterone as Dr. Prior mentioned.

      Hormone balancing and nutrition have become key elements to women’s health and well being. We are all being exposed to excess estrogen in our environment through plastics, synthetic birth control, household cleaners and hormones in our foods.

      Anxiety and depression (in part due to excess estrogen) are not ‘normal’ states of mind. No one should accept that these moods – or mood swings are just the way it is.

      There is a lot that can be done in healing the body so that menstruation can once again be a normal, natural cycle. And so that women can go back to being their vibrant selves instead of living in a shadow of doom and gloom.

  10. Tonya says:

    I was on depo for 17 months and it was a mistake cause my body constantly hurt so i went off two months ago and still no period

  11. Nat says:

    My doctor put me on depo when I was 13 because the dismenorrhea I was suffering from the age of 11 was causing me to miss school and I just wanted to die for two weeks every month. I have been on it for 12 years. Was off it for about 6 months because I wanted to lose weight and it has been impossible to lose weight while on depo. Then I started dating a long time friend and went back on depo. I had one hell of a sex drive from the ages of 13-17, by definition I was a nympho, but it’s pretty well been non-existant for 8 years. My boyfriend hates condoms, which is why I went back on it, he hated having to put on the condom, so I felt it would just be easier not to have to argue everytime we wanted to have sex and just go on depo. Now that I’m back on it I never want sex, and it’s hurting my relationship and my psyche, I’ve always been more productive after having the endorphines of a good orgasm coursing through my system but it’s not working anymore. Been doing some research for the last 4 hours on “how to get sex drive back when on depo” and have read COUNTLESS other women’s stories about how awful depo has been to them all this time!!! Needless to say I will never have an injection again in my life. I want to go back to being crazy about making love to the love of my life! I’ve had a crush on him for just as long as I’ve been on depo and now that we finally have a chance to be together I have no desire to make love with him!! It’s so horrible!! I want to have that desire to be close to him again! I’ve actually been feeling really down, and to put it bluntly, suicidal. Can’t even get out of bed, quit my job before I got fired for missing so many days and have been seeing a psychologist every week. I cry every day. The antidepressant I have been on for a year has stopped working, and now nothing my doctor puts me on works! It was just a couple weeks ago that I got the shot again after being off it for 6 months, and my nipples(basically my ON buttons) are SO SORE it is like you are burying a needle in them every time they are touched! I am going to try a holistic approach to get my hormones and system back on track in 3 months, I think that would be the healthiest way. Trojan has just come out with their thinnest condoms ever, my boyfriend and I agree it feels like there’s nothing there, which is good enough for him and so once my sex-drive comes back sky’s the limit!! Good luck to all you other women suffering from this debilitating drug.

  12. tootsie says:

    After readainf many of these stories I’m more afraid. I’ve been on Depo for 13+ years and recently decided to go off ( husband has had vasectomy) and get a true reading on my hormones ( (48 yrs old) It’s been a NIGHTMARE !! A month ago I went thru a severe depression, anxiety, tears, cranky…..now for the last 3 weeks ..I’ve had non stop cramping and sweats……WHAT is the answer for us poor women? I am currently wating for blood tests to return.but am frustrted beyond belief !

  13. Hi tootsie,
    It sounds like you may now be in perimenopause. To learn more about perimenopause take a look at: http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/help_yourself/articles/perimenopause_ovarys_grand_finale

    If you’re having difficult cramps, take ibuprofen 200 mg to stay ahead of the pain (even if you have to take it every hour for a while). It likely means that a period is coming.

    The sweating is hot flushes and night sweats and may well improve. However, if night sweats continue to wake you twice or more often a week, I’d suggest that you ask your family doctor for a prescription for Prometrium (oral micronized progesterone) 300 mg at bedtime daily. The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research study showed that Prometrium is effective and safe for hot flushes in women who are menopausal (Hitchcock, Menopause 2012). We’re currently doing a Canada-wide trial of this treatment for perimenopausal hot flushes and night sweats.

    Hope this is helpful for you,
    All the best,
    Jerilynn

  14. Katie H says:

    I’m so glad I found this website! I was on the shot for a little over a year and went off this April 2012, but just got a period this past October. I haven’t felt like myself since I started the shot and wish I would’ve realized that was the source sooner. Nothing like having no sex drive and being dry down there for your honeymoon. I just hope my body regulates quickly. I’ve only had one week where I wasn’t on a heavy period since October. I’m so over it. I was wondering for women that have been on the pill…are the side effects this bad coming off? And is there anything besides contraceptives that lighten up bleeding?

    Thanks ladies for sharing!

    • Katie, thanks for commenting. I’ve always thought it ironic that the effectiveness of Depo-Provera comes at the cost of women’s desire for sex.

      For information on how to manage heavy bleeding check out http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca, the website for The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research. Search for articles on heavy bleeding.

      No woman needs to take hormonal contraceptives to treat any of the menstrual cycle issues they are so often prescribed for. There are other ways – better ways IMO – to treat menstrual cycle problems. CeMCOR offers alternative treatment protocols.

    • ela says:

      depo is definitely different for every woman. i had a single shot this summer. the only noticeable side effects were a slight depression, spotting after one month into the shot and some bleeding during sex. coming off it was not that bad either. for about a week i had some pregnancy-like symptoms, including cramps, bloating, dizziness and breast tenderness but everything to a lesser extent than during pregnancy. three weeks after the next shot was due i had my period and it’s been regular ever since. also my periods are shorter than before the shot. i hope this helps.

  15. Doe says:

    I started using Seasonale over 9 years ago continuously. I take them so I do not get a period. Is this ok? I read that a woman does not need to menstruate if she is not planning on having children.

    • The idea that women don’t need to menstruate if they are not planning to have children is based on the false assumption that ovulation and menstruation serve no other purpose to women’s health than for reproduction. Much research suggests the contrary, that healthy ovulatory menstruation contributes to breast, heart and bone health, (both during our reproductive years and into menopause) and supports libido and general well-being.

      You can read about the benefits of ovulation, and the hormone released post-ovulation – progesterone, in a series of articles you can access here:

      http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/help_yourself/articles/Ovulation_series

      Ultimately, each woman must decide for herself whether or not she wants to menstruate. As a women’s health advocate, my opinion is that an informed decision cannot be made without knowing both what you gain AND what you give up by choosing to suppress menstruation.

  16. Lea B says:

    I’ve been on a regular birth control pill since i was 18 (now 25), never had a problem with them. But this year, decided to go on Depo-Provera, after a friend said she loved it. So i got the shot when i had my pap smear, the beginning of june 2012. It was like a day or two afterwards i could just feel a difference, i was very on edge and angry/bitter, plus, the no period thing made me very bloated and pent up. I actually missed my periods! haha. Anyways, i only did one shot, and decided to go back to my regular birth control pill. Was supposed to get 2nd Depo shot in August 20th-early Sept, but got back on pill instead. The transition was fine…but noticed that the entire month of this month (November) I’ve had slight nausea, loss of appetite, some acid re flux….started freaking myself out, because i never get nauseous….it hit me, the shot takes months to work its way out of your system. I thought i would’ve had withdrawal symptoms right away, but no, they’re coming 3 months after stopping the shot. Which seems right, right? Anyways, i’m having my period now, which had no problem coming back…but I am going off birth control entirely to help my body get my body get back to normal, i have no bf, so pregnancy wont be an issue. Is this pretty normal to have these kind of withdrawal symptoms after quitting depo, even though I went back to birth control pill (which is a combination pill)? The only thing that bugs me is the slight nausea…which i heard Chasteberry helps. So i went down to my local health store and asked about it, referred to as the Womans Herb…helps with so many things for women…helps balance hormones. Anyways, started taking one a day, and it’s really helped with nausea. I’m sure i will just have to let Depo work its way out of me. Wouldn’t recommend the shot to anyone, its like poison! Any information you have would be great. Thank you.

  17. sira says:

    just had 2 shots over last year to help with what I thought was hormone triggered epilepsy (catamenial) this not the case I stopped taking the shots. my periods returned as regular with very light brown spotting, however being regular, so I was hopeful my body was not effected too badly or long term by the 2 shots I had had. however, the light spotting returned as regular last month and has continued into a full on heavy bleed which has not stopped ever since, this has now running into its 3rd week and I am feeling exhausted and confused – The doctors and specialists dont have the answers, only a bill to pay on the way out of the door which just makes me feel even more sick!
    Researching and networking is the only way forward now and I thank you for website.

  18. Cicely says:

    I found this while trying to determine what is going on with my body. I started Depo in May 2011 and had a horrible experience in December 2011 where I bled HEAVILY for nearly 3 1/2 weeks, with fist sized clots and running through a regular tampon in less than 2 hours. Dr. thought maybe I had gotten pregnant and miscarried. July came (2012) and had the same thing, this time for only 2 weeks, decided I was done with this shot and this issue as I had random spotting all the time as well, not enough for a slim tampon so I had to wear a panty liner and if I didn’t it was just enough to ruin my underwear. I was supposed to get the next shot in September and decided against it. this year I’ve gained at least 20lbs, unexplicably so. I’m not exercising like I used to – but I’m not eating as much either. I’ve never been this big before. My breasts hurt all the time – and extreme nipple sorenes as well. I had convinced myself that it was either thyroid or something cancerous – did blood work, biopsy of my cervix and a vaginal ultrasound – all came back normal. I had the light daily spotting for nearly 3 weeks in October and then got a “normal” period in early November. I got a second one the week of Thanksgiving. I’m now on my third period that just started yesterday and of course I’m now worried about other health issues and don’t even know where to begin. I wondered if what I’m experiencing is because of the Depo? Not sure where to turn or what my next steps should be – any guidance is greatly appreciated.

  19. Dear sira and Cicely,
    Thank you for sharing your stories of heavy flow on coming off Depo-Provera. This high dose progestin injection suppresses your hypothalamus and pituitary thus leading to low estrogen levels (which is why, in the short term this shot causes bone loss). However, when you stop the shot, as your body tries to recover there is an inappropriate over-production of estrogen. And yet things are not yet recovered enough to make enough progesterone. That’s the cause for your heavy bleeding.
    The good news is that there is a simple, accessible and cheap solution in the short term–ibuprofen every 4 hours while you are awak will decrease heavy flow by almost half–and in the long term your menstrual cycle hormones will come into balance again. See this CeMCOR article: http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/help_yourself/articles/very_heavy_menstrual_flow
    If you continue to have heavy flow, access, copy and take this CeMCOR article for health care providers to your physician to get a prescription for progesterone:
    http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/help_yourself/articles/managing_menorrhagia
    Just believe that your body is doing its best to get into balance again.
    Hope this is helpful for you,
    Jerilynn

  20. jeanette says:

    Its been over 5yrs now when i went off depo, and i only took 3shots,i havent seen my periods and am panicking and i am very woried that there might be something wrong, my doctor put me on provera10,and still have not seen my periods.he took my blood test and the results showed that my hormones are very low, i just dont know what to do right now,my friend suggested i go for pap smear and all will be well, i just dont know.

  21. Liz says:

    I have been going through the change of life. I had two periods two months apart and have had two periods in the same month. Should I be worried? I have been very tired and have been sleeping heaps. I am also type 2 diabetic and am wondering if it has affected that as well? I have had a cold for over a month now and it shows no signs of leaving. Is all this related? I am so confused. A little help would be awesome.

  22. ashley says:

    I was on the shot for two years and have been trying to concieve and it hasn’t happened. Is this a coiencidence or deposit related?

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Return to fertility post-Depo can take a long time. Your trouble conceiving is probably linked to having taking Depo-Provera. Have you any symptoms you would care to share? Have you had a menstrual period since you stopped taking the drug?

      SMCR member and commenter on this post, Dr. Jerilynn Prior, is going to write about coming off this drug for the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research website http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca. When it is available we will post a link to this post. Please check back periodically.

  23. ashley says:

    Not deposit lol.. DEPO ***

    • Kim says:

      I was on Depo for 13 yrs and got my last shot one year ago today. I got married 3 months ago and we have been TTC since out wedding night. My periods returned within 6 weeks of missing my Feb injection and the cycles have been fairly normal and about 27 days long. I had a really bad month in May and took a day from work for the PMS/Menstrual pain. The PROBLEM is that I should be super happy and excited and I am NOT. For 2 months I have been SO stressed and anxious I cannot even control myself. I am irritable, anxious, frustrated, and crying all the time. I have a stressful job but I have been doing it for 5 yrs. I also was diagnosed with TMJ due t stress. I am in pain, not happy, and cannot get out of this funk. The funny thing is…I was NEVER this way….and I am wondering if the sudden stopping of the DEPO and the overurge of Estrogen is causing these feelings? It has been volatile and people know something is wrong with me! Can anyone relate?

  24. shauna says:

    I have been on drop since Feb. Of 2011 I had my last injection in June of 2011. I decided not to get my injection in Sept. Bc I was having terrible side effects while being on drop. I gained weight. Which wasn’t a a problem at first I’ve always been tiny so at first the weight gain was nice until I started to gain it in my mid section. Not ok. Then came the hot flashes I feel like I’m going through menopause. My breast ache I actually thought I had been pregnant at first. I took 3 test the first one was a faint positive but it was def. Positive then the last two were negative. Not sure what was up w that.Then the tie breaker for me was when my hair started coming out. One always had long very thick hair. Now its so thin I can’t stand doing my hair any more. My hair is one of my favorite things about me. I had gotten on odrop after my second child turned a year bc since being a teenager I have never been able to fine a birth control that my body reacts well too. I’ve been on everything from all diff. Forms of the piltl, paragaurd to depo. I do eventually want another child perhaps in the next year of so so I’m not looking to get pregnant right at this moment. But I would like to feel normal n like a woman again. I have not had a period n over a year( I went from the paragaurd straight to drop) actually there was 3 months between the two. I just want my body back I’m so frustrated and depressed. My doctor wants me to get back on it to stop these withdraw symptoms or get on the mirana which is basically the paragaurd. I don’t know what to do. Please help!!!

  25. Laura Wershler says:

    Hi Shauna, Thanks for sharing your story. I can imagine your frustration at having such problems with these various methods of birth control. Unfortunately, it seems many doctors have no idea how to help women come off Depo-Provera, other than to suggest you take it again, or as your doctor suggested, try the Mirena, which is an IUD that delivers the same drug, in smaller amounts, directly to the uterus. Hair loss is identified as a side effect of Mirena, BTW.

    If you want to get your body back to normal, and have another child, I would suggest not taking your doctor’s advice about going back on Depo or having a Mirena. They will just delay the transition back to regular menstruation and fertility. It saddens me that sexual heath care providers are so inept at helping women in your situation access and use barrier and fertility awareness methods effectively and confidently. They can be very effective, and prevent the side effects you’ve experienced. I’d like to see more imaginative approaches to helping women use non-hormonal methods.

    Are you open to a new way of thinking about contraception? There really is no magic pill. I’ll be happy to carry on this conversation with you about where you might go from here.

    All the best.

  26. shauna says:

    Thanks so much for reply back. I’ll try any thing that’s non hormonal and can help get my body back on track so that eventuallu my husband and I are able to successfully try to start ttc in the future. Is there any way I can force this stuff out of my system faster. I’m only 24 and I feel like this shot has sent my body through pre menopause. I just want this poison out of my body. Any suggestions?

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Shauna,

      One thing you might consider is connecting with a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who can help you with post-Depo recovery of your health and cycle, and teach you how to use the Justisse Method of Fertility Awareness. Although there may not be an HRHP in your city, you can connect via Skype from anywhere. You can find a list of practitioners here:http://www.justisse.ca/PractitionerDirectory.htm

      I’ve written extensively about the efficacy and value of fertility awareness and body literacy on re:Cycling. You may find some information of value in some of these articles. You can find my archive of articles here: http://menstruationresearch.org/author/laura/

      Although the hormonal methods of birth control available work well for many women, for many others they do not. A combination of FAM and barrier methods is not just an adequate solution, but for some the best solution.

  27. Gigi says:

    I started my depo 3 months ago during my period. As soon as I got the injection, the next day my period turned to spotting. I was kinda happy it worked so fast at first ….but it was all a lie :/ …. 2 days later I started a period again. I didn’t sweat it until a couple months go by and it’s still here as I’m typing. I only took one injection in my life and that’s the first and last time. I skipped my appt last week. The following months after the depo I thought I thought I went mental. Me and my bf were arguing and i slammed my hand on the window and my hand went right through, i gashed both my arms and wrist. My boyfriend said I’m crazy and weird, I told him its the evil depo. A week after skipping appt I’m going through:
    Hot flashes
    Mood swings
    Joints crack when I move
    Extreme anger and violence
    Hunger increased
    Slightly depressed
    Can’t sleep

    I’m a student and I can only take so much.
    I wish I found this site before I started depo. It’s unbelievable how this chemical junk is put on the market like this . They need to really warn these ladies before injecting them with this stuff.

  28. Jackie says:

    I was on depo for 4 years because I had periods backwards (on for 3 off for 1) started with pill but I was 14. When I was 18 I was steady with my long time boyfriend and engaged we decided since we had heard it took awhile I would get off and if it happened sooner then planned so be it. 1 year later I got back on it for about 4 shots (a year) everything changed my mood, sex drive, just want to do anything, relationship was getting hit hard. Got off of it and blead for 3 months on and off. Now 3 years later my periods have returned to “normal” I’m starting to pass clots again (not as big as before I went on anything) and acne has returned and for the last 2 months my breast just kill all month long some days worse then others and ill get a day or so relief after my period. Oh and at age 22 I am also starting to get hairs on my chin! My now husband really wants to start a family as do I and my doctors are in disbelief that I haven’t gotten pregnant yet.
    All in all this was the worst experience in my entire life I wish I could ban this for all use for “birth control” I wish all woman could stand together and raise a hand to how many this has had a negative effect on. I’ve read and read and read about it and it just makes me sick. My neices and nephews are in middle school, friends and other family having babies here and there. It just honestly hurts to see. And then to be asked “why haven’t you had any yet” I just want to scream! And honestly its affecting my relationship once again as we attended my youngest nephew graduating from pre school my husband stated “oh wow if we had a kid right now I would be 30 when he graduated pre school”

  29. Jamie says:

    I have been on the Depo shot for 2 years and 3 months. I stopped having a period completely after my second shot. Not a once since then, not even light spotting. I switch from the patch which I had been on for 3 years previous to the Depo. Last year I noticed a dramatic decrease in my sex drive. Hearing comments from my husband “I just don’t do it for you anymore,” are completely heart breaking and have been making me feel as though there was something wrong with me. I am so glad to know this is not a “just me” issue.I want, to WANT, to have sex, but the ignition source seems to be out of fuel! We have recently been researching the issue of lost sex drives while on the Depo. I believe my husband understands now that it’s not him. I am happy to say that Dec. 22nd (my due date for my next shot) I will not be getting another shot! I have decided to get on the pill. Not only to hopefully gain back some of the deep down passion for sex, I had only a year ago, but to hopefully gain my fertility back so we can start a family. I am a little worried about the side effects I have been reading about. However, I will take the challenge. I will deal with my side effects symptomatically and hope for the best. Wish me luck!

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Jamie, Just be aware that decreased sex drive is also a problem experienced by many women who take the pill. If you are interested in regaining your fertility, you may want to consider coming off hormonal birth control completely and learning to chart your menstrual cycles to confirm return of ovulation. You can use fertility awareness to both prevent and achieve pregnancy. It is not uncommon for women to wait more than a year post-Depo for a return to fertility.

      • Jamie says:

        Just thought I’d give an update. I did not go in for my shot in December when I was due. I did experience some side effects. My heart would flutter often. Sometimes so badly it would make me cough. My breast seems to double in size and were very sore. Those side effects lasted about a month. Other than that everything has been O.K. I started my period yesterday March 10, 2013. So it only took me about 3 months to get it back. I’m excited and hoping this means I can get pregnant. We are anxious to start our family.

  30. Samantha says:

    Hi, so I had my son and about 3 months later got the depo shot. I only got one shot and haven’t had one for the next two months I was scheduled to. I have had a non-stop bleeding (ranging from a light period to spotting). Continueous for 3 months now including the month I got the shot. Will the bleeding ever stop? Is it just the depo working its way out of my body? Why is this occuring and will regular birth control daily pills help regulate the bleeding? I soooo hat this form of birth control. No blood clots, weight gain or any other weird thing going on…PLEASE HELP!

    • Laura Wershler says:

      Continual bleeding at the beginning of taking Depo-Provera is common. Only by continuing the shots will the bleeding go away. But it will stop eventually. See comment #20 from Dr. Prior for information about this.

      You may want to return to normal ovulatory cycles before choosing another method. Have you considered a combination of fertility awareness and condoms? If you are planning another child, this may be a good choice without side effects.

  31. Ashley says:

    I was on the shot for just under one year. I stopped it in July 2012. In the last 6 years, I have (had) dropped 110 lbs. As of this morning, since Oct. 2011, I have gained 45 lbs. I am also a runner and was training for a half marathon and triathlons up until this fall. So, it’s not like I have been lazy.

    I made an appt. with a new Dr. (Internal Med.) to see what she thinks my next step is. I have no desire to date or be in a relationship, mostly due to weight gain and my breasts are swollen and hurt a lot. It is more difficult for me to run and be active. I am also tired all the time. Any advice on what I should ask her to do?

  32. Laura Wershler says:

    Ashley, Depo-Provera is a powerful drug and the variety of negative experiences women are sharing about coming off the drug attest to how bio-individual we are in our responses to it. Most health-care professionals do not have the skill or the interest to help women restore healthy ovulatory menstrual cycles when they stop Depo-Provera, despite the serious health concerns women are having. They are usually focused on getting you on some other hormonal method. Next, they will be recommending the Mirena IUD that delivers small doses of a different progestin than what is in Depo-Provera. You didn’t mention if you have resumed menstruating, are having heavy periods, or what other issues may be in play. Do read comment #20 for some helpful information. Excess estrogen may be causing your sore breasts and should abate in time.

    My only recommendation is to wait out the transition back to normal ovulatory menstruation. See comment #27 where I shared information about finding a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner.

    I am very interested in learning what your doctor does suggest when you see her. Was it helpful? Respectful of your concerns? Was she supportive in your wanting to get your health back? Did she urge you to try another hormonal contraceptive? Did she offer any assistance in getting back a healthy, ovulatory menstrual cycle?

    That there is no practical, effective protocol for restoring menstrual cycle and overall health post-Depo is a deficit of service and information that must be addressed. These stories make me mad and sad at the same time.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Ashley says:

      Well…instead of seeing the Dr. I got the NP. Normally I wouldn’t mind, however, she was a little short with me. So I forgot to mention some of my symptoms. I told her I was there because I am concerned with how much weight I have put on. I did get a normal period in Oct. and am spotting (I guess) this week. I’ve always been irregular so my real concern is the weight gain.

      When she looked at my weight and saw why I was there, she didn’t want any background info, she just suggested the lap band. I told her that I wasn’t there for weight loss surgery suggestions but rather why I had out so much on in such a short time. Then she asked if my family has a history of thyroid issues. I explained about my history with the Depo. Then she mentioned about the Dr. enrolling me into her weight loss management program. It’s not covered by my insurance so I doubt I’d be able to do it. She did do blood work but I won’t go back until next month. I need to find something wrong…there is just no way that I could’ve done this much damage with just food—not again!

      • Laura Wershler says:

        Hi Ashley, It will probably take a while for things to get back to normal. All I can suggest is to keep doing the things you were doing to lose weight the first time and as your hormones get back to normal you should see a change in your weight. What you want to try and achieve is regular, ovulatory cycles. Irregular or long cycles can be related to under-functioning thyroid. My colleague and I are making a list of issues women are having with Depo, mostly after stopping the drug, and will try to address the range of issues with suggestions. Keep watching this post.

  33. Marion says:

    Hi, this site is very interesting, but didn’t really answer my question or concern:
    I am 49, on Depo for about 13 years and want to stop having the Depo, as I don’t want more chemicals than necessary in my body. No need for contraception as I don’t have a partner and not planning to have one. I believe that I’m not that far from menopause, so my question really is, will the stopping of Depo will have an impact other than described by the other women? Could it trigger Menopause? What about all the different “…strogen” levels? I told my GP that I want to stop which she recommended a few time, because of the bone density issue (I had a scan 5 yrs ago, and it was ok), so shw will probably support me, but I don’t want to take any other chemicals instead. Any ideas? Thanks so much in advance!

  34. Anon says:

    I have been off the depo provera for 5 months and am 16 years old. Was on it for a year. Going on this was my worst mistake. I have had a period everyday for the last 2 months, I have also gained about 6lbs and have really bad acne and self confidence now!! Can anyone please tell me how long this takes to go please as it’s like torture. Thank you x

  35. Vicky says:

    I was on depo injection for 5 years, I stopped my injections about a year and a half ago, I had a very heavy period for 5 months straight without a break, I was sent to a specialist who put me on a pill called marvelon, hasn’t really helped with my periods, I have 2 a month sometimes, Iv just had an hysterscopy and biopsys and I’m currently waiting for my results, I am absolutely petrified that my partner and me will not be able to have children, we always seem to start a period through any sexual activities even if it doesn’t involve actual intercourse, so being able to carry a baby for 9 months seems like a very unlikely option for me, I’m 23 and want my body to return to normal, the only good thing for me was losing all of my weight, but I suffer with depression anyway and it’s worse now my body is so messed up and having the thought of never becoming a mum, I’m lucky my boyfriend is very understanding about it all, but any help would be much appreciated :)

  36. KeKe says:

    I was on the depo short for 4 years with my 1st child and cycles went back to normalafter coming off, then I was on the depo for 3 Years with my last child and and when I came off this time I didnt have a cycle for 6 months and when I did have a cycle it would last for about 5 days go off for about a week or two and come back every month since. Through out this entire time I have had mood swings, nausea, headaches, backaches, and cravings however have not been pregnant neither time. Here it 15 months later since the last depo that my body has not been regular since. I want to conceive another child but can’t cause I have a cycle twice a month. This is very disturbing that more research was not put into this drug before administering it to patients and if it was doctors and practioners need to provide more education about so people will no what they are getting into, cause it breaks my heart that I can conceive a child right now and I don’t want to put any more medications into my body due to the many side effects at this point. Any comments or suggestions greatly appreciated.

  37. KeKe says:

    I was on the depo shot for 4 years with my 1st child and my cycles went back to normal after coming off the shot. Then I was on the depo for 3 Years with my last child and and when I came off this time I didnt have a cycle for 6 months.When I did have a cycle it would last for about 5 days and go off for about a week or two and come back on every month since. Through out this entire time I have had mood swings, nausea, headaches, backaches, and cravings, however have not been pregnant neither time. Here it is 15 months later since I had my last depo shot that my body has not been regular since. I want to conceive another child but can’t cause I have a cycle twice a month. This is very disturbing that more research was not put into this drug before administering it to patients. If research was done then doctors and practioners need to provide more education about it so people will know what they are getting into. It breaks my heart that I can’t conceive a child right now and I don’t want to put any more medications into my body due to the many side effects at this point. Any comments or suggestions greatly appreciated.

  38. Ky says:

    I have been on the shot for four months now and have been experiencing the same side effects as most women here: depression, getting angry, no patience, moody, sensitive to comments, no desire to do anything. I just realized it was the Depo after researching online. I plan on switching to the pills for my next appointment. I have had horrible irregular periods, right now I have been on my period for two months now and it stopped for maybe two days. I read that if you take progesterone it should help. Does anyone have any suggestions for this? I wish I had done more research before taking this shot, it seems to impact many women negatively even after they get off the shot. Im 19 if that makes a difference and I’m scared my body won’t go back to the way it used to be.

  39. tara says:

    I have been on Depo for 4 years now. I have never had the problems that these ladies mentioned on here. My gyno gave me the info about Depo the side effects what need to do to make sure I don’t lose my bone density and I have never had mood swings my breast are never sore and my sex drive is still there.

  40. Julie says:

    I just recently skipped my last depo injection that was due on August 26 2012. I have not yet started my period. I was receiving my shot at a local clinic and at the time decided against any other form of birth control as I would like to have another child soon. I just turned twenty eight and my first daughter is already seven. I was a young mom when I had her and my obgyn recommended the depo shot. I agreed without researching it much and at the time I had no desire to have any more children any time soon. I had issues remembering the pill and I thought this sounded like a wonderful option. I went off the shot after a few years for a few months and then switched back to depo. I honestly had no noticeable side effects either time other than no periods and that wasnt so bad (: I also haven’t noticed any negative side effects coming off of depo either other than I have yet to start a period and I would like to establish a regular cycle and try to conceive soon. Should I consider taking a birth control pill or will this regulate my cycle at all?

  41. Char says:

    I started the depo injection Sept 15 of 2012 while I was on my cycle. I believe two days into it. I haven’t stopped since. I was due to have my 3 month inj. Dec.13. but decided not to receive it because of the bleeding. I wanted it to stop. Still bleeding today and as gross as this sounds I don’t just bleed, I “shed”. It seems like any new lining that forms is immediately shed. I did call my clinic and all i can do it go in an tell an ARNP my symptoms. Which are normal.(per the info sheet like weight Gain and my hair seems to break easier. No breast tenderness)
    Just wish this bleeding would end. It hate being asked by my partner, “when are you going to stop?” Should I wait a little longer before making an appt?

  42. Jess says:

    Hey there everyone
    I am 24 yrs old and have had only one shoot of the depo, I was due again nov. 30 and decided not to go back. I hated the way it made me feel, but now I am almost having regrets of ever going off it. Since skipping the last injection I’ve had bloating, spotting and bleeding on and off, nausea, headache. Went to ob/gyn did a PT-negative, had ultrasound done at my job(because I’m totally Peroniod) and nothing was abnormal. I went again to my family doc and she told me that she does not give anyone the shot unless they have a certain condition or very heavy menstrual. I regret taking this shot and have been nothing but nervous p, Peroniod, and anxious ever since I got it ;(. I am looking into getting my body back the natural way. I am not ready for another baby and I am not sure if this is in my head since I really don’t want to be preg. And have a trip to see my fam in Peru this coming feb.

    Please help

  43. Jenni says:

    Thank you so much for making this post! I was on the Depo shot for 3 years. I have started to freak out a little bit because it has been 5 months since I stopped the shot and nothing! No spotting, no pregnancy, no moodiness, no irritation, no tenderness. It’s like I’m still on the shot without having to get a shot.
    I was really beginning to get worried until I read it could take a few months to 18 month to get a period again. I will be getting married in a little over a year and we would love to have children. I started to feel I would never get my period, and be infertile. If I don’t get my period by the time 12 months rolls around I will go see a doctor. I’m just worried that if I wait too long I will never get my period again.

  44. Zoe says:

    Hi could you help?..I was on the depo injection for just 6 months I was due my last one in August but decided it wasn’t a for me..the last few days I’ve been having pregnancy symptoms..tiredness bloating of stomach breasts are very tender and swollen and increased appetite,I’ve done 2 pregnancy tests in the last few weeks and both negative..I just want to know if anyone’s similar and received their period shortly after?..thank you x

  45. Jen says:

    Hi there. Just wondered if anyone could help? I was on drop injection for about 9 months I gained a lot of weight whilst on it. I was due my last injection feb 2012 that’s 11 months now. I still have not had any period/spotting I have had the pregnancy symptoms but all home tests come back negative. I would just like to feel normal again.

    • Emily Griffith says:

      I am in your boat!!! I have taken numerous pregnancy test because of the same reason!! My doctor thought it was my iron, but when I took the iron pills i just felt worse. I cut out my caffeine in take and my breast are still tender!! I have been off the shot for 6 months and have still not had a period. I read today that it could take up till a year for some to have a period!! I wish my doctor would have told that to me!! He told me 2-3 months!!

  46. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    Hello, Jen, Zoe, Jenni, Jess, Char, Julie, Ky, KeKe, Vicky, and any others who’ve asked for help here in the last couple of weeks —

    FIrst, let me say how sorry I am to hear about the misery you all are experiencing from Depo Provera, whether from using it or from trying to stop using it. Laura certainly gave this post an apt name.

    Second, before I say much more, I’m compelled to repeat this statement from re:Cycling’s about page: re:Cycling is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment recommendations. Please check with your health care provider(s) regarding your personal health care decisions, and seek immediate care in emergencies. Our opinions do not substitute for medical or other professional care, and you should not use information read here or sites we link in place of a visit or consultation with your health care provider.

    Third, having said that, I would like to direct your attention to two posts from earlier in this comment string by Jerilynn Prior, M.D., who is an endocrinologist who specializes in women’s reproductive health.
    (1) In this post, of interest to Char and others, she offers advice for managing heavy flow in the short term and some recommendations that you can take to your physician or health care provider for a longer term solution.

    (2) For those of you who have stopped Depo Provera and have not yet resumed menstruation, Dr. Prior explains “that the upswing (from suppressed) estrogen levels is causing sore breasts, bloating, weight gain and mood issues. What is happening is that the body needs to “learn how to” get into its cyclic, balanced mode again.” Please read her recommendations and additional links here.

    Thank you for confiding in us, and we hope you find relief soon.

  47. Laura Wershler says:

    Thanks to Elizabeth for this reminder that re:Cycling is not designed to provide medial advice, as well as directing readers to Dr. Prior’s previous posts on this comment string that do help explain some of what commenters are experiencing.

    As I get back to work after the holidays, I continue to be amazed and, I’ll admit, disheartened by the personal stories so many readers are sharing about their mostly negative experiences with Depo-Provera. Dr. Prior and I intend to compile something that categorizes the different health issues women are experiencing and provide additional information that may be helpful in, at the very least, weathering the post-Depo storm.

    I’m grateful that re-opening the comment stream on this post has provided an opportunity for women to share experiences and vent frustrations. That so many women are looking for information and assistance in coming off this hormonal contraception suggests an urgent unmet need for better health-care support in this area.

    Thanks to all who are sharing their stories.

  48. Emily Griffith says:

    I have been on the Depo shot for two years this past July 2012 which I never had a period during the time I jutted it. My husband and I wanted to started a family. I have endometriosis so I figured it would be a long road, but its January 2013 and I still have not had a period. My doctor told me that it would be 2-3 months till I started my period and its been 6 months!!! I have been cramping and bloating like during a period but nothing!! During the Depo shot I would still cramp from the endometriosis I guess. What I’m looking as suggests with my problem with no period yet. I’m 28 and I know that I’m not getting any older!!! I’m ready to start my family. I have even thought about changing doctors too. Please help me. Thank you for time!

  49. Jennifer Carr says:

    I was on Depo for three years and had my last injection in May 2012. I’m 31 now. My periods returned in October 2012. I’ve gained weight – NEVER an issue for me before – If I blink really hard, I lose a pound. I’ve been exercising formally every day (whereas before, I was UNDERWEIGHT without formal exercise). I cut out caffeine and have a caloric intake of 1000 per day, but my clothes don’t fit any better for it. My breasts have increased TWO cup sizes, and I’m not pregnant. Had I known that was a possible side effect, I would’ve refused Depo: I’m 5’2″ and was a D-cup before the Depo, so increased breast mass is the last thing I want. My nipples hurt very badly. I saw my PCP days ago. He did blood work – TSH, creatinine, cortisol, etc. – all normal, though cortisol was borderline low at 10 a.m. Anyway, the physician just says about my weight gain, “if you’re still gaining weight after two months, schedule another appointment.” WHAT?! It’s been three months with the weight gain and increasing breast enlargement and pain – how does he expect me to cope for another two months?

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