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The injection

What is the contraceptive injection?

The injection is a long-lasting and reversible contraceptive that prevents pregnancy. The injection contains a hormone called progestin. 

When used correctly, the injection has a high chance of preventing pregnancy. The injection does not prevent STIs and HIV, but a male/external or female/internal condom can.

How does the injection work?

The contraceptive injection is a shot that contains hormones that stop ovulation. Ovulation is when the body creates an egg every month. When you don’t ovulate, no egg is created, and sperm can’t make you pregnant. 

How often do you have to get the injection?

You need to get your injection every two or three months depending on the type of injection you receive from the clinic or hospital. 

The injection is a good option if you don’t want to have to remember to take it every day, and if you don’t mind needles, but you do need to remember to come back for your next injection in two or three months, according to your next appointment.

Note: If you forget your appointment for your next injection, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. You can take emergency contraception within 5 days after unprotected sex.

How do you get the injection?

A trained healthcare provider will give you the injection at a health facility. The injection is administered for free at government health facilities.

Who can use the injection?

Women who don’t mind the use of needles can safely use the injection for years as a contraceptive method to protect themselves against pregnancy

Who cannot use the injection?

You should not use the injection if you cannot return to the health facility every two or three months for your repeat injection. If you are planning a pregnancy in the next few months you may prefer to use a different type of contraceptive because the injection is a long-lasting contraceptive — this means that it will take your body longer to get pregnant when you are ready to have a child.

For medical reasons, you should also not use the injection if:

  • You are at risk of getting osteoporosis (a condition where your bones become fragile).
  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
  • You have liver disease or breast cancer.

Discuss the above medical reasons with your healthcare provider

How much does it cost?

Depending on the brand, the cost may vary between R90.00 and R250.00 for every repeat injection in private facilities. The injection is free at government health facilities.


  • The injection protects women against pregnancy for months at a time. 
  • You also don’t need to remember to use the injection every day and this is a very private way to use contraception because there is no leftover packaging from the injection. 
  • The injection may also decrease menstrual blood flow and menstrual cramps and pain. 
  • If you are breastfeeding, you can take the injection to prevent pregnancy. 


  • Natural fertility (the ability to get pregnant again) can take six to nine months to return after you stop the injection.
  • If you are planning a pregnancy soon, the injection may not be the best option for you. 
  • The injection does not protect against HIV or STIs.

Important points to note when using the injection

  • If you are on any medication, please let your healthcare provider know as the injection may affect your other medication.
  • In the first three to six months of using the injection, your menstrual bleeding may be irregular or prolonged. This is not harmful, and it often improves with time. 
  • Many women who use the injection will have no periods after about four injections, this is also not harmful.

How do I get additional protection against HIV and STIs when using the injection?

For additional protection against HIV and STIs, different prevention options can be explored, such as PrEP and using a condom. Using condoms and contraception together is what we call “dual protection”. 

Is the injection your ideal contraceptive? Take the test! 

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