Hormonal Birth Control Implants & Depo-Provera Shot

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Pregnancy prevention and symptom management are personal choices – Everyone should be educated in their choices and deserves to live their best life on terms that work for them

In terms of HBC, some are notorious for awful side effects, while others seem more tame. Depo-Provera and HBC Implants seem to be in the 1st category of not-so-great, so we wanted to highlight a few things to watch out for.

Depo-Provero (aka ‘the shot’) is a progestin-only option
– Every 12 weeks, a potent injection of medroxyprogesterone acetate is given
– It seems to suppress both estrogen and progesterone to VERY low levels similar to what we see during menopause
– Symptoms of weight gain & erratic bleeding seem to be very common

Depo can be the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ DURING use, but especially AFTER stopping injections: since hormone levels are practically non-existent, the body has to up-regulate by overproducing estrogen. We often see a delay in return of ovulation – which means a delay in progesterone production.

Since estrogen & progesterone operate as a see-saw, it’s not uncommon to then see symptoms of estrogen excess –  such as heavy periods, PMS, breast pain, mood swings, low libido, abdominal weight gain, etc (PMID 15050987, PMID 22369929, PMID 26046602).

The Implant (Jadelle, Norplant-2, Nexplanon, Implanon) is a tiny rod inserted into the arm
– It prevents pregnancy for up to 4 yrs and is also progestin-only
– Common side effects seem similar to Depo, where we may see weight gain and erratic bleeding (PMID 23582238)

In general, progestins found in hormonal birth control are supposed to mimic progesterone. Due to chemical structure, progestins DO elicit some properties similar to progesterone, but also some completely different ones. Progestins are actually more similar testosterone than progesterone

If you’re currently using Depo or have an Implant & want to explore other options- check in with your physician! My blog is full of suggestions for naturally boosting hormones, naturally preventing pregnancy, and further education on HBC. Lara Briden’s Period Repair Manual is also a fantastic read.

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