Sex & you

Sex & you

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Safest Contraception Options: Combined Shots

How These Contraception Options Work

Combined injectable contraceptive, also known as CIC, birth control shot, or combined shot, is one of the safest contraception options. Combined injectable contraceptive means that a woman is given intramuscular injections in every four weeks or every three months. The injection contains progestin and synthetic estrogen. These hormones prevent the egg from leaving the ovaries (it prevents the process called ovulation). Combined injectable contraceptive also makes cervical mucus thicker, this way, the sperm is unable to reach the egg. CIC also makes the lining of the womb thinner. CIC works like combined oral contraceptives, however, it is their safer version, since CIC has a lower failure rate. CIC has another advantage over birth control pills: you do not have to take a pill every day, so there is no risk of forgetting it. Those who take birth control pills may forget to take a pill, which makes the method less effective. Ideally, you have to take a pill at the same time every day, even a couple of hours of difference can make these types of contraceptives less effective.

Types of Contraceptives: Availability

CIC is injected by a health care provider. It is injected in the muscles of the upper arm, buttocks, or thigh.
Cyclofem, Novafem, Mesigyna, Lunelle and Cyclo-Provera are combined injectable contraceptive brands. These types of contraceptives appeared in the United States in the early 2000’s, but they are not available anymore. They are still available in several countries of the world. These days, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, also called DMPA or Depo-Provera, is the only combined injectable contraceptive that is available in the United States. You can get a shot once every three months.
When you get a combined shot, it elevates your hormone levels, which will slowly decrease during the following weeks. After three months (or one months, depending on the types of contraceptives), you are supposed to get another shot. Do not wait longer than 3 months (or one month, 33 days at most), because any delay has a negative impact on the effectiveness of the method.

Effectiveness of Contraception Options

Getting injections is a safe and discreet way to avoid pregnancy. There is no way to tell that you use such contraception options, so you can keep it secret if you want to.
CIC has a very low failure rate, only 0.2 %, which means that out of 500 women who use combined injectable contraceptives as a birth control method, only 1 gets pregnant. The failure rate might be higher if the woman waits longer than 3 months (or one month) between two injections.
CIC is a convenient way of birth control, since it is a long-acting contraception, it does not require lots of effort and time, and it has no unpleasant side-effects. Some other contraception options intervene with menstrual bleeding, they may cause pain, intense bleeding, or irregular cycles. 

On the other hand, these types of contraceptives can provide good cycle control. CIC may make your period easier and more predictable: you may experience lighter bleeding or less days of bleeding. Since menstrual bleeding is very unpleasant and leaves women tired and angry, many women are happy that CIC can reduce the days of menstruation or the intensity of bleeding. CIC may cause slight changes in your period, but these symptoms are minor and they stop within a few weeks, or, at least, when you quit taking injection. Combined injectable contraceptives do not cause a decline in your libido.
Once you stop taking the injection, you still will not get pregnant for about a month until the effect wears out. After 4 to 6 weeks, you will have your chance to get pregnant.


CIC is one of the contraception options that are safe for women who live with AIDS and use antiretroviral medicines. However, CIC does not offer any protection from sexually transmitted diseases. If you use such types of contraceptives, make sure that you use other forms of protection, for instance, condom.

You should not use combined injectable contraceptives when you are breastfeeding a child who is younger than 6 months. If you smoke and you are over 35, you should not choose such contraception options: just like oral contraceptives, CIC can contribute to cardiovascular diseases and blood clotting. If you have high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, or some types of cancer, or you are prone to blood clotting, then this method is not safe for you. Neither should you use combined injectable contraceptives if you have migraine. If you have diabetes, you live with depression, you are allergic to hormones, or you have any kind of liver disease, you should not get combined shots.

The side-effects of combined shots are minor. They may include headache, breast pain, weight gain, irregular bleeding, weakness and nausea. It may affect sexual health and cause sexual dysfunction.

CIC may cause a loss of bone density if you are using this method for more than two years in a row.

Before you decide to use CIC, you should consult with your gynecologist. Inform your doctor about any medication you take and any health issue you may have.