Expertly Reviewed By: Serah Waweru, Esq., on May 30, 2023
When you visit your doctor’s office for a Depo-Provera shot, you will likely receive an injection in your upper arm. Although this injection is generally safe, there may be risks involved if the doctor gives the shot wrongly. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Depo-Provera?
Depo-Provera, or the Depo shot as popularly known, is an injectable birth control method for women. It contains a type of progesterone hormone that suppresses ovulation to prevent pregnancy. In addition, this shot thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm cells to travel up the cervix toward the egg. As a result, it reduces the chances of fertilization.
A Depo shot lasts about 14 weeks and starts working immediately after the first dose, which is often administered during a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, if an individual receives their first dose outside their cycle, they may need to wait 7 to 10 days before the medication starts working. Within this period, they must use protection while having intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
Generally, you must have a healthcare provider’s prescription to receive Depo Provera. Usually, the healthcare provider reviews your medical history, checks your vitals, and may run a few tests before recommending this medication. Then, if you’re a good candidate, your doctor will advise you on when you can receive the first dose and schedule your consequent shots.
If visiting the doctor’s office every 14 weeks doesn’t work for you, you may opt for the self-injectable version of this contraceptive, Depo-subQ Provera 104. This injection comes in a prefilled syringe, so you don’t have to worry about preparing the needle or measuring anything.
Additionally, SubQ-Depo is injected into the skin instead of the muscle, making it less painful and easier to administer.
Depo Injection Sites
Depo-Provera is given through a deep intramuscular injection. The most common depo provera injection site is the upper arm (deltoid muscle). Alternatively, your doctor may administer the injection through the gluteal muscle on your buttocks or other intramuscular sites such as the thigh or lower abdomen. However, the latter options are very rare.
On the other hand, the SubQ-Depo injection sites include the upper thigh and lower abdomen. Since SubQ-Depo is self-injectable, you must seek guidance from your healthcare provider on safely administering the medication to avoid injuring yourself.
Additionally, physicians recommend rotating the Depo injection sites whenever you get the next dose. This helps reduce irritation, tissue damage, and muscle atrophy on the injection sites.
Depo Side Effects
Like any other medication, Depo Provera has its side effects. These may include but are not limited to the following:
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Decreased sex drive
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Excessive facial and body hair
The most common depo side effect is changes in the menstrual cycle. For instance, some women experience irregular spotting or bleeding between their menstrual cycles. However, such changes don’t affect the effectiveness of this medication.
Risks of Injecting Depo Wrongly
Intramuscular injections such as the Depo shot can cause several complications if injected wrongly. Here are some of the potential risks involved.
Swelling, Pain, and Discomfort
The intramuscular injection involves swiftly inserting the needle into the muscle at 90 degrees. If your doctor uses an incorrect technique, the needle may end up in the wrong injection site, causing pain, discomfort, and swelling.
Infections and Abscesses
You may develop an abscess from a bacteria infection on the injection site. An abscess is a pocket filled with pus and can cause pain, swelling, and fever. If left untreated, the abscess can cause a life-threatening infection and spread throughout your body.
Blood Vessel Damage
Your doctor must be careful not to bruise or break blood vessels while giving the Depo-Provera shot. If that happens, you may develop a hematoma, a localized collection of blood that can result in swelling, pain, and discoloration of the injection site.
Nerve Injury and Paralysis
Intramuscular injections such as the Depo shot is known to cause sciatic nerve injuries if injected wrongly. This is because the needle goes through several layers under the skin to reach the muscle. So if the physician uses the wrong technique, the needle may hit a nerve, resulting in pain and paralysis.
If a Depo shot isn’t administered correctly, there’s a high chance that it may be ineffective in preventing pregnancy. This is because the medication may not absorb into the bloodstream as intended. Unfortunately, an unplanned pregnancy can cause stress, depression, and mixed emotions.
What to Do When Depo is Injected Wrongly
If you’re an injured victim of a Depo injection error, you may have a valid reason to pursue a claim against the individual responsible for your pain and suffering. However, your health comes first, so you must seek medical attention immediately. And while at it, remember to inform the healthcare professional of all the symptoms of the side effects of Depo that you experienced after the shot.
Next, contact a personal injury lawyer to evaluate your case and determine whether you can claim compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, medical expenses, and more.
When Can I File a Depo-Provera Infertility Lawsuit?
Depo-Provera isn’t known to cause infertility in users. However, some women wait 1.5 years or more to conceive after quitting the Depo-Provera shot.
That said, you may have other valid reasons to file a Depo-Provera lawsuit if the medication caused you injuries or adverse side effects. For example, although headache is a common side effect of Depo-Provera, it may be a sign of pseudotumor cerebri, a condition associated with such birth control. This condition results from pressure build-up in the skill that mimics the symptoms of a brain tumor.
You may have a valid product liability claim if you develop pseudotumor cerebri after taking Depo-Provera medication. This is because the manufacturer may not have provided sufficient warnings regarding the adverse effects of this medication, therefore putting your life at risk.
Pseudotumor cerebri can cause swelling on the optic nerve, leading to impaired vision. Other symptoms that may result from this condition include:
- Severe headaches
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Short-term memory loss
- Ringing ears
- And so on
Can the Depo Shot Be Given Incorrectly?
Even though healthcare professionals are trained to give injections correctly, mistakes can happen. For example, a healthcare professional may inject the wrong site or use the wrong injection technique. Unfortunately, the Depo shot isn’t an exception to such mistakes, which can cause pain, swelling, or paralysis in adverse cases.
How Can the Depo Shot Be Given Incorrectly
Some of the ways a Depo shot can be given incorrectly include:
- Injecting the wrong site
- Using the wrong needle size
- Using the wrong injection technique
- Using an unsterilized or used needle
Is at Home Depo Injection Safe?
The at-home Depo injection is generally safe. It comes in a prefilled syringe and single-use needles. But unlike Depo-Provera, Depo-SubQ contains 30 percent less progestin, potentially reducing the chances of its side effects.
Even though SubQ-Depo is safe and FDA-approved, you still need a prescription to get this medication. Additionally, you must seek guidance from your healthcare provider on correctly injecting this medicine at home.
What Happens if an Injection Missed the Muscle?
When an intramuscular injection misses the muscle, chances are that it may hit a bone or surrounding tissues. This may cause severe pain, swelling, and discomfort. The injection may also damage a nerve, causing numbness and paralysis.
If you suspect your Depo injection missed the muscle, consult a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
What Are Some Depo-Provera Horror Stories?
Depo-Provera experiences vary from one user to another. While most women applaud this contraceptive, many regret choosing Depo-Provera over other contraceptives.
For example, some women report that they experienced intensified side effects of Depo when they decided to withdraw from the medication. These side effects include erratic bleeding, loss of sex drive, extreme breast tenderness, hair loss, weight gain, headaches, and mood swings. Other women also complained about how long it took them to conceive after quitting Depo.
Testosterone Leaking Out After Injection – What Does That Mean?
After an injection, you may notice a fluid leaking out of the injection site. This means that the medicine is flowing back following the needle’s trail. However, you shouldn’t be alarmed when this happens because the leakage may not be significant.
You may reduce the chances of leakage by waiting five seconds before withdrawing the needle from the injection site. Additionally, you may apply a little pressure on the injection site for about ten seconds using clean and sterile gauze. Lastly, ensure that you rotate the injection sites every time you get the Depo shot, whether you’re doing it yourself or getting the shot from your doctor.