Injectable

Providing 2-3 months of contraceptive protection

An effective, long-acting and reversible method of contraception

A contraceptive injectable contains a hormone that is injected into the body that stops eggs being released.

Injectables are a very effective method of contraception when used correctly.

To continue being effective, you must make sure to return for an injection every 2-3 months, otherwise you risk the chance of becoming pregnant.

How an injectable works

The injection is usually administered in the arm, thigh or buttock by a trained provider.

It only takes a few minutes to have the injection. It can take up to 7 days before the injection starts to work if you have not previously used a contraceptive injectable. You can use a condom for those 7 days.

Depending on the type of injectable given, another injection will be required in 2-3 months times to continue being an effective contraceptive method.

If you have your first injectable on day 1 to 5 of a period, it will work straight away. At any other time, extra precautions, such as condoms or abstaining from sex will be required for 7 days. 

If you've recently had an abortion, you can have an injectable following your treatment. It will be given to you during your treatment and will work straight away. It will then last a further 12 weeks before another injection is required.

Frequently asked questions about injectables

How good are injectables at preventing a pregnancy?

The injectable works very well at preventing a pregnancy. If 100 women used the injection for a year and carried on with their normal sex life, then only 1 of those women would fall pregnant during that period.

However, it is difficult for some women to remember to get their injections on time. With typical use, about 3 women out of 100 would fall pregnant.

What are the advantages of an injectable?

  • Depending on the type of injectable it can last up to either 2 or 3 months. After each 2 or 3 months you will need to have another injection.
  • It can help to reduce heavy periods.
  • It does not interrupt sex.
  • It is discreet – no one can see that you are using it.
  • You can start it straight after an abortion.

What are the disadvantages of an injectable?

  • Once you have had the injection it cannot be removed. You will have to wait the 2 or 3 months for its effects to end, even if you decide you don’t want it any more.
  • The injection can result in a delayed return to fertility but will not change a woman’s natural ability to become pregnant. On average it is 4 months (for the 3-month injection) or 1 month (for the 2-month injection) but could be as long as 1 year.
  • Unlike condoms, it does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
  • Your regular bleeding pattern may change while using the injectable. In the first 3 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 women using the injectable will gain or lose a small amount of weight. If weight gain occurs it will generally be in the range of 1-2kg per year but in rare cases may be up to 5kg.
  • 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 around the right time. There is some flexibility in that you can be a couple of weeks early or late for your repeat injection and it will still be effective. But you should avoid being more than 2 weeks late or you may not be protected from pregnancy. 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 back up until you get your next injection.

If you're starting to use contraception for the first time, or thinking about using a new method, it's a good idea to have a full consultation.

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