Implant

THE BASICS

What is it?


The birth control implant is a slender rod of plastic that contains a form of the hormone progesterone. The implant is about the size of a matchstick. A doctor or nurse inserts it under the skin of your upper arm in an office procedure that only takes a few minutes.

An implant can prevent pregnancy for 3 years.

How well does it prevent pregnancy?


A very effective method of birth control — one of the lowest pregnancy rates of all birth control methods.

Less than 1 out of 100 women using Nexplanon get pregnant in a year of use.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Prevents the monthly release of an egg from your ovaries (ovulation). Progesterone also thickens the mucus in your cervix. This stops sperm from entering the uterus. The lining of the uterus also becomes thinner.

WHAT ARE SOME PRODUCT NAMES?

Nexplanon is the only brand available in the United States.

PROS

  • Very effective birth control.
  • Safe if you can’t use birth control with estrogen because you:
    • Are a smoker over 35
    • Have had a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis or venous thromboembolism) or stroke
    • Have had serious side effects from estrogen
    • Have coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or lupus
  • Safe if you are breastfeeding.
  • Sex can be spontaneous.
  • Private.
  • Reversible. Can be removed by a doctor at any time if you want to try to get pregnant. Rapid return to fertility after implant is removed. Periods start again within a month.

CONS

  • Bleeding may occur at unpredictable times. This is usually light.
  • You may stop having periods. You’ll need to call your doctor right away if you think you might be pregnant. Signs of pregnancy include breast tenderness and nausea (“morning sickness”).
  • No-go with some health issues or medicines:
    • History of breast cancer, liver cancer, or liver disease
    • Certain seizure medications

POSSIBLE CONCERNS

Possible side effects are:

  • Acne
  • Headache
  • Mood changes, such as feeling more emotional or depressed
  • Weight gain

Possible problems at the implant site are:

  • Pain, irritation, or bruising. This usually goes away within a few days.
  • Rarely, infections or nerve damage.
  • Scar tissue. In rare cases, this may make removal difficult.
  • Rarely, implants have come loose or moved into another part of the body. You’ll need to call your doctor if you ever can’t feel the implant in your arm.

EXTRA BENEFITS

  • Can reduce heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods, and anemia.
  • Even if you have normal periods, you may bleed less. About 15 out of 100 women stop having periods.
  • May improve:
    • Endometriosis
    • Irregular periods