Birth-control injections (also called "the shot") are hormones injected into the arm, buttock, or thigh to prevent pregnancy. Two birth-control injections have been developed in the United States. The monthly injection (brand name Lunelle) contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. But Lunelle has been recently recalled and is currently unavailable. The 12-week injection (brand name Depo-Provera) contains the hormone progestin. Injections do not protect you from HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.Effectiveness
Both injections are very effective in preventing pregnancy, with effectiveness rates as high as 99 percent for the monthly injection and 99.7 percent for the 12-week injection.Advantages
Birth-control injections are very effective in preventing pregnancy, are private, and provide continuous pregnancy prevention during the month (Lunelle) or 12-week period (Depo-Provera) following the injection. The injections also can help to regulate menstruation and reduce bleeding and cramps. The 12-week injection is safe to use while breastfeeding.Drawbacks
It may be inconvenient to get injections on time every month (Lunelle) or every three months (Depo-Provera). Side effects may include irregular menstrual bleeding, weight gain, mood changes, acne, or headaches. The monthly injection is not recommended for women over age 35 who smoke. The 12-week shot is not recommended for women who may want to get pregnant within a year.Availability
Visit your health-care provider or a family-planning clinic. The injections will be administered by a health-care provider.Costs
Birth-control injections ordinarily require an initial (and then yearly) visit with a clinician, which can cost from $50 to $150. The monthly injection costs about $50 a shot, while the 12-week injection costs about $75 an injection. Medicaid and some private health-insurance plans cover most or some of these costs. Many family-planning clinics provide services and supplies FREE or on a sliding scale, based on your income.Information Resources
For additional information, check out these books:
- Boston Women's Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.
- Winikoff, B & Wymelenberg, S., The Whole Truth About Contraception: A Guide to Safe and Effective Choices. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press, 1997.
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From the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.