Drugs Q & A

How Do You Know When Depo-Provera Is Out Of Your System?

What is Depo-Provera?

Depo-Provera is a brand of medroxyprogesterone acetate, a contraceptive injection that contains the hormone progestin. Depo-Provera is given as an injection every three months. Depo-Provera typically suppresses ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg. It also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the egg.

Medroxyprogesterone acetate is also available in a lower dosage. This version is called Depo-SubQ Provera 104. While Depo-Provera is injected deep into the muscle, Depo-SubQ Provera 104 is injected just beneath the skin.

Depo-Provera and Depo-SubQ Provera 104 have similar benefits and risks. To use Depo-Provera or Depo-SubQ Provera 104, you’ll need to visit your doctor or other health care, provider.

How does Depo-Provera work?

The Depo-Provera shot works by impacting ovulation — the part of the reproductive cycle when an egg is released from a woman’s ovary — and thickening your cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from successfully getting to the egg. The shot is injected into your muscle (often your arm or buttocks) and needs to be provided on a schedule of approximately every 12 weeks or three months.

This injectable type of birth control has a few differences from other forms of birth control. Unlike an oral contraceptive, you do not need to do anything daily with the birth control shot. You receive the shot every three months from your provider and — other than making sure you stick to the schedule for receiving your shot on time — you don’t need to do anything else to prevent pregnancy.

How long does Depo stay in your system?

There are several factors that come into play when estimating how long Depo-Provera or other Depo products will stay in your system because every patient has physiology unique to them. Here are some major factors you should consider when trying to understand how long Depo will stay in your body:

•        Age: Typically, the younger you are, the more efficient your body functions are. The more efficient your body functions, the faster Depo will be removed from your system.

•        Amount: The higher the dose of Depo you have been taking, the longer Depo will take to be removed from your system.

•        Genetics: Genes predispose people to different metabolic functions, which is a key factor in how your body processes medications like Depo. For this reason, your genetic makeup comes into play when estimating how long Depo will remain in your system.

•        Kidney and liver functions: The liver and kidneys eliminate everything you ingest, and Depo is no exception. If your liver or kidneys are damaged, it will most likely take longer for your body to remove the Depo from your system.

•        Metabolism: Your metabolism determines how quickly you process foods, liquids, and drugs such as Depo. If your metabolism is slow, it will take longer for your body to process and eliminate Depo from its system than someone with a fast metabolism.

•        Usage frequency: The longer you have been taking Depo, the longer it will remain in your system. For example, it will take longer for someone who has taken Depo for several years to remove Depo from the body than someone who has only been taking Depo for a few months.

Depo-Provera is metabolized in-vitro primarily by hydroxylation via the CYP3A4, it has an apparent half-life of approximately 50 days. The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the amount of a drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by half. This depends on how the body processes and gets rid of the drug.

Generally, it only takes around 15 weeks (105 days) for Depo-Provera to wear off after the last shot. However, it can take up to 10 months for some woman’s bodies and hormones to return to normal levels even though it can happen much sooner for others.

How to flush Depo-Provera out of your system faster

As with any medication, you can hasten how quickly your body eliminates Depo-Provera out of your system by doing the following:

Drinking adequate amount of water daily: Drink lots of water and avoid sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice or caffeinated drinks like coffee. An inbuilt advantage of rehydrating your body is that water is a natural detox agent. Flushing out your system, the chemical and toxins along with fat and other unwanted Depo-Provera residue leave your body. The more water you drink, the more powerful the flushing effect. Keep a small bottle of water with you at all times and regularly take small sips. This approach is better than trying to periodically down large glasses

Avoiding alcohol: Although alcohol doesn’t change the effectiveness of hormonal birth control methods like the Depo-Provera shot, eliminating alcohol for at least 30 days will help heal your gut, and give your liver a break from processing toxins.  Doing so can help you eliminate Depo-Provera faster.

Good Nutrition: Nutritional deficiencies can affect drug absorption and metabolism. Severe energy and protein deficiencies reduce enzyme tissue concentrations and may impair the response to drugs by reducing absorption or protein binding and causing liver dysfunction Aim for 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Protein: Protein is a building block for a healthy body. You don’t need much, medical experts suggest 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams for men each day. Protein isn’t just in meat; beans and yogurt are also good sources of protein. Protein-binding may affect drug activity in one of two ways: either by changing the effective concentration of the drug at its site of action or by changing the rate at which the drug is eliminated, thus affecting the length of time for which effective concentrations are maintained.

Multivitamins: a multivitamin can be extremely beneficial to kick-start your Depo-Provera detox. Many people benefit from a multivitamin that at least contains zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, and B-complex. However, be sure to talk to your doctor before adding vitamins to your diet. Every person’s body is different and you may need more of one nutrient than another. Also, certain vitamins can be harmful depending on what else you’ve been taking.

How Do You Know When Depo Is Out Of Your System?

When you stop taking birth control shots like Depo-Provera, the best and most efficient way to know that the medication is no longer in your system is to look out for signs of ovulation. Depo-Provera prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation (the release of an egg by your ovaries). It thickens your cervical mucus, which makes it hard for sperm to reach and fertilize an egg. It also thins your uterine lining, which makes it hard for a fertilized egg to implant, or attach, to your uterus.

When Depo-Provera leaves your system, its absence can trigger a surge in estrogen levels, and result in changes in cervical mucus which may provide clues about ovulation. During your fertile window, this nutrition-rich, slippery fluid increases in volume. It also becomes thinner, stretchy in texture, and clear in color. Cervical mucus is often referred to as having an egg-white consistency during this time.

Other signs of ovulation can include:

  • an increase in body temperature
  • in some instances, pain

A person might also experience:

  • bloating
  • breast tenderness
  • cramps
  • spotting
  • an increased sex drive

A simple way to verify that Depo-Provera has completely been eliminated from your system and your hormones have returned to normal levels is to track your fertility using an ovulation predictor kit from a drug store. These can detect the increase in luteinizing hormone in urine that occurs just before ovulation.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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