Birth Control Shot vs. Birth Control Pills: Which is more effective?
The birth control shot also known as Depo-Provera and oral contraceptives (referred to as birth control pills) are highly effective and safe methods of contraception.
The biggest similarity they share is that the pill and the birth control shot contain hormones that prevent ovulation. However, each method is taken in a different form. Birth control pills must be taken daily, while Depo-Provera has to be administered by a healthcare professional once every 3 months.
Each birth control method comes with its own set of pros and cons. Before making a choice, you should research the pros and cons. If you’re still unsure, speak to a medical doctor to determine what suits you best.
What is the birth control shot?
The birth control shot known as Depo Provera is a hormonal injection that contains progestin. The shot is used to prevent pregnancy and manage medical conditions related to your menstrual cycle.
The shot is 99% effective when received but for those who do not take the shot as prescribed (called typical use) the efficiency rate slips to 94% which means 6 out of 100 people getting the shot will get pregnant each year. To ensure its effectiveness, you should get the shot every 3 months as directed.
- You only have to get it every 3 months, making it a great option for people who have busy lifestyles or are forgetful.
- With typical use, it’s slightly more effective than the pill.
- It only contains progestin, so it’s a good option for people who can’t take estrogen.
- You have to go to the clinic to get it.
- Side effects of the shot may be more intense than those of the pill.
- It takes a while to get pregnant after you stop receiving the shot.
- It can decrease bone mineral density, especially in the first 2 years of use.
- It should not be used long term (the Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 2 years to reduce the risk of osteoporosis).
The birth control pill
Birth control pills are a form of hormonal contraception and is used to:
- Prevent pregnancy
- Reduce heavy periods
- Treat acne
- Ease symptoms of certain reproductive system issues
Birth control pills come as combination pills and progestin-only minipills.
Combination pills contain 2 types of hormones: progestin and estrogen. These pill packs typically contain 3 weeks of active pills and 1 week of inactive (placebo) pills. During the week of inactive pills, you may have a period.
Progestin-only pill packs usually contain 28 days of active pills. Although there aren’t any inactive pills, you may still have a period during the fourth week of your pack.
It is recommended that the pill be taken at the same time every day for effectiveness and to help get you into a routine. However, combination pills offer more flexibility. Combination pills are effective as long as you take one every day, but pills containing only progestin must be taken within the same daily 3-hour window, according to Planned Parenthood.
According to planned parenthood birth control pills are 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when taken as directed but with typical use, birth control pills are 91 percent effective, which means 9 out 100 people taking the pill will get pregnant in a given year. Typical use is when a pill or two is missed, being a bit late with a new pack, or any incidents that prevents someone from taking the pill every day at the same time.
- Side effects may be less intense than those on the shot.
- The pill has many benefits, like lighter periods and reduced menstrual cramps.
- You can get pregnant as soon as you stop taking the pill.
- They’re convenient since you can take them anywhere, rather than having to visit your doctor’s office.
- With typical use, it’s slightly less effective than the shot.
- You have to remember to take them every day.
- Progestin-only pills must be taken within the same 3-hour daily time window.
The birth control shot and birth control pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Methods of protection like condoms should be used to prevent contracting an STI.