Depo-Provera, also known as the birth control shot, is a method of contraception that prevents pregnancy through the injection of a drug similar to the hormone progesterone. Each injection prevents pregnancy for three months. Prenatal vitamins, on the other hand, are multivitamins specially designed to meet your heightened nutritional needs during pregnancy. While a birth control method and prenatal vitamins might initially seem at odds with each other, there are several instances in which you might consider taking both items simultaneously.
Backup Prenatal Vitamins
Depo-Provera is more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. Since the risk of pregnancy is so low, there is no need to take prenatal vitamins as a backup measure just in case pregnancy occurs. The U.S. Public Health Service, however, does recommend that all women of childbearing age get a daily 400 mcg of folic acid, as adequate folic acid intake prevents many neural tube defects that occur during early pregnancy. You can meet your folic acid needs with a regular multivitamin or folic acid supplement.
Although Depo-Provera is highly effective, there is still a small chance of accidental pregnancy, particularly if you do not get your Depo-Provera shot every three months. Unlike most other birth control methods, however, missing your period while on Depo-Provera is not always a likely sign of pregnancy. After a year on Depo-Provera, 50 percent of women stop experiencing periods. Take a pregnancy test if missing your period makes you genuinely concerned about pregnancy. If the test is positive, start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible and schedule an appointment to see your doctor.
Trying to Conceive
While prenatal vitamins are an unnecessary backup measure while taking Depo-Provera, you may choose to take prenatal vitamins during Depo-Provera if you are thinking of trying to get pregnant soon. Begin taking prenatal vitamins at least three months before conception; if you're hoping to conceive once your Depo-Provera shot wears off, start taking prenatal vitamins soon after getting your last shot. If you are truly invested in conceiving within a few months, however, keep in mind that Depo-Provera may not be your best option for birth control. While it is possible you may get pregnant once your shot's effectiveness lapses, on average it take women 9 to 10 months to get pregnant after their last shot. Some women may take a year or two to achieve pregnancy. If you have your heart set on getting pregnant soon, you may want to consider switching to a form of birth control that offers a shorter return to fertility, such as condoms, a diaphragm, or the birth control pill, patch or ring.
You may also want to take prenatal vitamins if you are breast-feeding while taking Depo-Provera. Since Depo-Provera uses a drug similar to progesterone, it will not affect your milk supply. Ask your doctor whether you should continue to take your prenatal vitamins while breast-feeding.
- FamilyDoctor.org: Depo-Provera – An Injectable Contraceptive
- Cleveland Clinic: Depo-Provera
- Cleveland Clinic: Prenatal Vitamins
- MemorialCare Health System: Preconception Planning
- National Women’s Health Information Center: Preconception Health
- KidsHealth: Breastfeeding FAQs – Your Eating and Drinking Habits