Health Question:
What is the risk I will get pregnant after Depo shot runs out?


My name is Christina --  I have a question about the depo shot ... I was on it for almost a year and decided to not go back for my last shot which was due the week of July 8,1998 (12 weeks). After that, however, me and my boyfriend continued to have unprotected sex and we used the withdrawal method. I was/am quite aware that I could become pregnant after the 13 weeks. So I guess my question is: what are my chances of being pregnant now? Is it the same as using the withdrawal method when never having used contraception or is what the manufactures say about the possibility of not being fertile for 6 or months play a role? While on the depo shot I only had spotting for a week back in December 1997 I have had no periods since. I would really appreciate a bit of your time to give me an answer. Thanks!!!

I feel it is important to tell you that withdrawal is only 80% effective as a method of birth control. The tiniest drop of semen contains thousands of sperm -- plenty enough to make you pregnant. They are so tiny they are invisible. And they can live inside your body for up to a week.

You asked what are your chances. I cannot give you "odds" or percentages. Each woman's fertility is unique. The reason we tell people that it may take time for fertility to return after using depo provera or any hormonal birth control is that if a woman *wants* to get pregnant, we want to let her know it may take some time for her cycles to go back to "normal." However, if a woman does not want to get pregnant, the best thing to do is use a form of birth control.

You may become fertile any time after 12 weeks after your most recent depo shot. No one can tell you when. Remember that your period starts 2 weeks (14 days) after the ovaries release an egg. There is no way to know in advance when ovulation will happen for sure. Because sperm can stay alive inside the woman's body for up to 7 days, pregnancy can happen fairly easily.

If you don't get your period by 16 weeks since your last depo shot, and you have had unprotected intercourse, you may want a pregnancy test. You can get an over the counter pregnancy test at any drug store. They are quite reliable. There are also several clinics that offer free pregnancy tests.

Watch out for anti-abortion "counseling centers" who offer free pregnancy tests! These are not true clinics. They are designed to "catch" young women who think they might be pregnant before they go to a real women's clinic and then try to talk them out of considering abortion. A safe clinic is one where you get to make your own decisions.

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