The contraceptive injection
The contraceptive injection usually provides three months of contraceptive protection, depending on the type of injection used.
It works by slowly releasing a hormone called progestogen which stops the body from producing an egg each month. The hormone also makes it harder for sperm to get into the uterus (womb).
There are two types of contraceptive injection
One (often called “Depo”), that need to be given by a provider, usually in the buttock.
A newer type with a smaller needle (called “Sayana Press”), that your provider can give you, or you can give yourself at home in your belly or the front of your thigh.
Video – the injection
Would you like to find out everything you need to know about the injection in under two minutes? We’ve created this short explainer video, filled with information about the injection including:
– What it is
– How effective it is in protecting against pregnancy
Getting the injection
In your first appointment with a doctor or clinician, you will discuss a range of contraceptive methods to find the one that suits you. Often, you will talk about your lifestyle, preferences, needs and medical history, and the clinician will assess the risks and benefits of contraceptive methods for the individual, considering all alternatives.
You will need to see a healthcare provider to have Depo injections in your buttocks once every three months.
If you are using Sayana Press, you may be able to be taught to give these injections to yourself.
It is important to have a reliable way of remembering when your next injection is due. This could be by marking your calendar or setting an alert on your phone.
How to inject Sayana Press
Sayana Press is an injectable contraceptive that works for three months, that you can use in your own home. If you choose to administer Sayana Press yourself, please watch this short, step-by-step video for a quick and easy demonstration of how to inject Sayana Press.
After injecting Sayana Press, you are protected against pregnancy for three months. If you are not able to administer your next injection before it is due, you should use alternate contraceptive methods once the three months are up until you can get another injection.
Effectiveness of the injection
The injection works well at preventing pregnancy, however, its ability to prevent a pregnancy largely depends on a person using it properly.
Perfect use: more than 99% effective. Fewer than 1 in 100 people will get pregnant in a year when using contraceptive injections regularly.
Typical use: around 94% effective. Around 6 in 100 people will get pregnant in a year.
If you want to rely on the injections as a means of contraception then it is important that you attend for a follow up injection at the right time. If you are late for the injection, come as soon as you can and avoid sexual activity during this time or use condoms until you get your next injection.
The mini pill – the perfect ‘bridging method’
The Depo or Sayana Press injection is a great method of contraception after an abortion, but if you haven’t quite made up your mind about contraception, you may want to consider a temporary or ‘bridging’ method to get you from now until you get the method of your choice without putting you at risk of an unwanted pregnancy.
The mini pill is the perfect ‘bridging method’, due to how quickly it protects against pregnancy.
Other LARC methods
Follow the links below to find information about other long-acting reversible contraceptive methods.
The contraceptive injection
Find all you need to know about the contraceptive injection.
The hormonal coil (LNG-IUD)
Find all you need to know about the hormonal coil (formerly known as the IUS).
The non-hormonal coil (CU-IUD)
Find all you need to know about the non-hormonal coil (also known as the copper coil).
Advantages, disadvantages, side effects and risks associated with the injection
Depending on the type of injection it can last up to either two or three months. After this time you will need to have another injection.
The injection can help reduce heavy periods.
It is not used during sex so will not affect spontaneity.
It is discreet – no one can see that you are using it.
Once you have had the injection it cannot be removed. You will have to wait the two or three months for its effects to end, even if you decide you don’t want it anymore.
The injection can result in a delayed return to fertility of up to one year. After this your fertility will return to normal. However, if you wish to avoid pregnancy you must use another contraceptive method straight after stopping the injection.
Your regular bleeding pattern may change while using the injection. In the first several months you may have irregular or prolonged bleeding. Over time your monthly bleeding may stop or become infrequent or irregular. This is not harmful and will return to normal after you stop using the injection.
Some users will gain a small amount of weight.
Some users may experience headaches, acne, mood changes or abdominal bloating.
If you want to rely on the injections as a means of contraception then it is important that you attend for a follow up injection at the right time. If you are late for the injection, come as soon as you can and avoid sexual activity during this time or use condoms as a backup until you get your next injection.
Condoms are the only contraceptive method which protect against sexually transmitted infections. To ensure protection from both pregnancy and infection, we recommend “dual protection”. This means using a male or female condom in addition to the contraceptive method of your choice to prevent pregnancy.
Using the injection affects your natural oestrogen levels. Lower levels of oestrogen in the body are linked to a small loss in bone mineral density. This may be more of a problem of you already have risk factors for osteoporosis, but isn’t usually a problem for most injection users as the bone replaces itself when you stop the injection and it doesn’t appear to cause any long-term problems.
When considering the injection, your clinician or contraception provider will ask you questions to check whether you could be at a higher risk.
As with any injection, there’s a small risk of a reaction at the spot the injection is given, which may cause irritation, swelling or a scar. This is slightly more common with Sayana Press than Depo.
Where can I book a contraceptive injection appointment?
In the UK, you can make an appointment to get the contraceptive injection – and to access other LARC (Long-Acting Reversible Contraception) services, such as coil fitting and removal – at sexual health clinics, contraception clinics and some GP surgeries.
At MSI UK, we primarily offer contraception services as part of your abortion care. We also offer contraception services in some parts of England for people who have not accessed our abortion services. From these clinics, people can access LARC (Long-Acting Reversible Contraception, such as the coils, the implant and the injection) with us without having had an abortion.
Follow the link to find out more: MSI UK Contraception Clinics
Having the injection as part of abortion care with MSI UK
As part of NHS-funded abortion care, we offer a range of contraception methods should you wish to start a method at the time of your treatment.
If you are accessing abortion care with MSI UK and would like to start using the contraceptive injection, we can arrange to give this to you during your treatment appointment, or posted out to you. You will need to visit your GP or family planning clinic every 12 weeks for repeat injections, or there is also the option of an injection that you can give yourself at home.
Learn more about contraception
Visit the pages below to find a comparison tool to help you find the right method for you, to learn more about long-acting reversible contraception and to find information about MSI UK’s contraception clinics.
Which method is right for me?
Find a contraception comparison tool that can help you find the right method for you.
MSI UK contraception clinics
Here, people can access long-acting reversible contraception without having had an abortion.
Long-acting contraceptive methods include the coils, the injection and the implant.