Getting started with the injection

To get started with the contraceptive injection, you'll need to: 

Your healthcare professional will ask you a few things to check that the injectable contraceptive is right for you. These include:

  • if you smoke

  • your general health

  • information about your periods

  • the medical history of close relatives

  • any allergies and any medications you’re currently taking

They’ll also want to check your height and weight.

If you choose Sayana Press (for self-injection) you’ll normally get 3 months supply first to see how you get on with it. After that, you’ll get a year’s supply. If you choose Depo-Provera, you’ll need to go to your healthcare professional every 13 weeks for an injection.

When to have the injection

You can have the contraceptive injection at any time, though you should note that:

  • if you have it within 5 days of starting your period, you’re covered immediately as it works by stopping ovulation, and at this point in your cycle, you won’t have started ovulating yet

  • at any other time, you’ll need to use additional contraception – such as condoms – for the first 7 days while the injectable contraceptive stops eggs being released

How to use the injectable contraceptive

Sayana Press – self-injected

If you choose Sayana Press, you’ll inject it yourself every 13 weeks under the skin of your upper thigh or abdomen. You need to change the place you inject into each time. We recommend alternating between your lower stomach and upper thighs.

The first time you self-inject, it’ll be demonstrated to you by a healthcare professional. Once you’re confident with this process, you can complete it yourself at home.

Watch our video for a reminder of how the injection works.

You’ll normally receive a prescription for a year’s supply (4 injections) at a time. You’ll need to keep a small sharps box at home to dispose of the needles safely. This box can be dropped off at your GP or local pharmacy for disposal.

Depo-Provera – injected by a healthcare professional 

If you choose Depo-Provera, you’ll need to return to your healthcare professional every 13 weeks for an injection.

How do I prepare for my injection appointment?

If you're over 24 and about the start the contraceptive injection, we recommend that you’re up to date with your cervical screening tests (smear tests).

To find out if you need a cervical screening, there’s more information on the NHS site.

What if I'm scared of needles?

Depo Provera is given by an experienced healthcare professional, so you don’t have to do it yourself. These injections don’t hurt any more than a normal injection. All you’ll feel is a sharp pinprick when the needle goes in and some tenderness at the injection site afterwards.

Sayana Press may not be the best method of contraception for you if you’re very worried about needles, though most people do get used to the self-injection process. You can learn more about how to give yourself the injection in our video.

How to stop using the injection

Once you’ve had the injection it can’t be removed. Its effects will wear off after 8-13 weeks, depending on the type used.

If you’re concerned about side effects, it might be helpful to keep a diary of these so you can monitor any changes as the injectable contraceptive wears off.

What do you do if you miss or are late with an injection

If you think your next injection is more than 14 weeks since your last one, you should have it as soon as possible. You will need to:

  • use condoms until you get the injection 

  • use condoms for the first 7 days after you’ve taken the injection

If you think you might be at risk of pregnancy

Do a pregnancy test at least 3 weeks after your pregnancy risk and make sure it’s negative before your next injection

If you’ve had unprotected sex when your injection is late, you may need to use emergency contraception.

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