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Injected contraceptives are given once every 3 months. Most injectables are progestin-only. In the United States, depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) is the only approved injected contraceptive. Depo-Provera (also called Depo, or DMPA) uses a progestin called medroxyprogesterone. Like other progestin contraceptives, Depo-Provera prevents pregnancy by halting ovulation, thickening the cervical mucus, and stopping the implantation of fertilized eggs in the uterine lining.
Depo-Provera is very effective in preventing pregnancies. About 3 in 100 women who use it become pregnant. However, Depo also carries the risk for many mild and serious side effects. The most serious side effect is loss of bone density (see "Disadvantages"). Because of this complication, Depo-Provera should not be used for more than 2 years.
Because Depo-Provera does not contain estrogen, it is safe for many women who are not candidates for combination oral contraceptives, such as women smokers over age 35.
Depo-Provera should not be given to women who have a history of:
Because of the long lag time between ending treatments and restoration of fertility, Depo-Provera is not recommended for women who are thinking of becoming pregnant within 2 years.
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