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The Contraceptive Injection

Find out all you need to know about the contraceptive injection

The 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 progestin which stops the body from producing an egg each month. The hormone also makes it harder for sperm to get into the uterus (womb).

Contraception at MSI UK

At MSI UK, we primarily offer contraception services as part of your abortion care. We also recently launched new "standalone" contraception clinics in a number of areas, meaning you can access contraception with us without having had a termination of pregnancy. Follow the link to find out more about our standalone contraception services.

What is the contraceptive injection?

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 implant:

  • What it is
  • How effective it is in protecting against pregnancy
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Risks
You must 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.

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.

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. 

With typical use, up to 3 out of 100 users will become pregnant.

Important

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.

Advantages, Disadvantages, Side Effects and Risks of the Injection

As with all contraceptive methods, there are a range of advantages, disadvantages and potential side effects when using the injection.

Advantages of the Implant

  • 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.

Disadvantages of the implant

  • 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.

Risks associated with the injection

  • 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.

Try "Choice"!

It’s important to know more about different contraceptive options so that we can support you as best we can. Our digital counsellor "Choice" helps you find the best contraceptive options for you. Fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle, preferences, needs and medical history, and you'll see a list of the most appropriate contraception options for you, or compare and view information on specific contraceptive methods.

Where can I book a contraceptive injection appointment?

In the UK, you can make an appointment to have the 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 recently launched new contraception-only clinics in a number of areas, meaning you can access contraception with us without having had a termination of pregnancy. Follow the link to find out more: MSI UK Contraception Clinics

Other LARC Methods

LARC methods include the contraceptive implant, the contraceptive injection, and both coils (IUD and IUS). Click on the links below to find out more.

The Contraceptive Implant

Find out all you need to know about the contraceptive implant.

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The Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Find out all you need to know about the intrauterine device (IUD).

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The Intrauterine System (IUS)

Find out all you need to know about the intrauterine system (IUS).

Read more