Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Contraceptive injection

5-minute read

Key facts

  • The contraceptive injection is a type of contraception (birth control).
  • The injection contains a hormone called depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), which is like the hormone progesterone.
  • To prevent pregnancy, birth control injections must be given every 3 months.

What is the contraceptive injection?

The contraceptive injection is a type of contraception (birth control).

The injection contains a hormone called depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), which is like the hormone progesterone. It‘s also called simply ‘Depo’ or ‘birth control injection’.

The DMPA is slowly released into your bloodstream over 3 months. You need a new injection every 3 months to prevent pregnancy.

How does the contraceptive injection work?

The contraceptive injection prevents pregnancy by:

  • preventing ovulation (eggs being released from your ovaries)
  • thickening the mucus at the entrance to your uterus (womb) so sperm can't enter

How is the contraceptive injection given?

The birth control injection is given into your buttock or upper arm muscle. A doctor or nurse can give the injection. To prevent pregnancy, an injection must be given every 3 months.

If you want to get a prescription for the contraceptive injection:

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

There are 2 brands of birth control injections available in Australia:

Your doctor will discuss with you whether back-up contraception is needed for the first week after your injection.

How well does the contraceptive injection work to prevent pregnancy?

The contraceptive injection is very effective if given every 3 months.

With typical use, about 1 in 25 women using the contraceptive injection will get pregnant. This is low compared to some other contraceptive methods.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the contraceptive injection?

Advantages of the birth control injection:

  • It’s highly effective.
  • You only need to have the injection once every 3 months.
  • It can be used straight after having a baby and if you are breastfeeding.
  • It usually stops your periods, so is useful if you have heavy periods or period pain.

Disadvantages of the birth control injection:

  • It changes the pattern of your periods — they might become more frequent or longer lasting, then stop completely.
  • It can take a while to get pregnant when you stop using injections — it can take 18 months for fertility to return.
  • You may have side effects such as weight gain, headaches, mood changes, breast tenderness, decreased sex drive and acne.
  • It might cause bone thinning.
  • You have to visit a doctor or clinic every 3 months for the injection.
  • The contraceptive injection does not protect you against sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

Who should not have contraceptive injections?

You should not have the injection if you:

  • want to become pregnant soon
  • have breast cancer

The contraceptive injection may not be suitable if you:

  • have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • have had breast cancer before
  • have serious liver disease
  • are at risk of, or have a history of, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke)
  • are at risk of low bone mineral density
  • are aged 50 years or older

Resources and support

Family Planning Australia has fact sheets on contraception.

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2023

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Contraceptive injection - MSI Australia

Information Sheet Contraceptive injection This page is an accessible HTML version of the document shown below

Read more on MSI Australia website

Contraceptive Injection | Body Talk

DMPA is a long-acting hormone which is injected every 12 weeks into the buttock or upper arm. Find our all the facts about the contraceptive injection here.

Read more on Body Talk website

Contraceptive Injection | Family Planning NSW

The contraceptive injection is a hormone injection that prevents pregnancy. The injection works for 12 weeks. The injection contains depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA). DMPA is a hormone similar to progesterone. Progesterone is made naturally in the body by the ovaries.

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Contraception - injections - Better Health Channel

Hormonal contraception for women is available as injections that slowly release hormones into the body over time.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Safe Contraception Services in Australia | MSI Australia

Our contraception service provides a range of LARC options such as contraceptive injections, implants or rods, copper intrauterine devices (IUDs) and more.

Read more on MSI Australia website

Long-acting reversible contraception | MSI Australia

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) are ‘set-and-forget’ contraceptive methods that do not require a daily or monthly regime such as IUDs, implants and injections. We offer a full range of LARC methods at our clinics nationally.

Read more on MSI Australia website

Injectable hormonal contraceptive

Depo Provera is a synthetic hormone (progestogen) that is given by injection every 3 months

Read more on WA Health website

Contraception methods| Contraceptive options | Contraceptive choices | Key facts on contraceptive | Contraceptive Melbourne - Sexual Health Victoria

SHV offer advice , services and support on contraceptive methods at both their clinics in Melbourne CBD and Box Hill.

Read more on Sexual Health Victoria website

Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) | Body Talk

Emergency contraception is taken after unprotected sex to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Find out all the facts about the Emergency Contraceptive Pill here.

Read more on Body Talk website


Contraception is the use of hormones, devices or surgery to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. It allows couples to choose if and when they want to have a baby.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.