Birth Control Implants
What is a birth control implant (Implanon and Nexplanon)?
A birth control implant is a thin plastic implant (approximately the size of a matchstick) that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm by a medical professional.
The contraceptive implant protects against pregnancy for up to three years. It is sold under the brand names Implanon and Nexplanon.
The implant contains etonogestrel (a type of progesterone), which prevents a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs (also known as ovulating) while the implant is in place.
In addition, progestin thickens a woman’s cervical mucus, which helps prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from traveling into the uterus and fallopian tubes to where the egg would be.
Birth control devices such as Implanon and Nexplanon generally costs between $400-$800 for the implant and insertion. It costs between $100-$300 for removal.
Like other birth control methods, the birth control implant does not protect against STDs (sexually transmitted disease).
Inserting & removing a birth control implant
After numbing a small area of the skin on one arm with local anesthesia, a health care provider will quickly insert the implant under the skin. It is important to tell all future health care providers that you are using the implant.
The implant lasts up to three years, but may be removed at any time. To remove the implant, a health care provider will numb a small area with local anesthesia and then make a tiny incision to remove the implant.
The implant is considered immediately reversible, so if a woman does not want to become pregnant, a method of birth control must be started immediately after removal. If she wishes, a new implant can be inserted through the removal incision to provide contraception for another three years
Effectiveness of birth control implants
Birth control implants such as Implanon and Nexplanon are effective means of birth control, with less than 1 percent of women becoming pregnant using the implant per year.
Some medications may decrease the implant’s effectiveness. These include:
- certain HIV medications
- TB medications
- St. John’s Wort
- certain anti-seizure medications
Safety of implants
The birth control implant is safe for most women. However, all medications carry risk, so it is important to discuss birth control options with a doctor.
Women who are pregnant or have breast cancer should not use the contraceptive implant.
Birth control implant benefits
Many women choose to use a birth control implant such as Implanon or Nexplanon because it does not require taking a daily pill or changing a weekly patch. There is nothing to remember before having sex. Additionally, the implant gives continued birth control protection without the permanence of sterilization.
Women who cannot take estrogen or who are breastfeeding can safely use birth control implants.
The ability to become pregnant returns soon after removing the implant.
Birth control implant risks & side effects
Some women may experience a small bruise after the birth control implant is inserted, but this heals quickly.
Changes in menstrual bleeding patterns may occur while using the implant for birth control. For the majority of women, periods may become lighter or fewer. One in five women do not experience any bleeding at all (amenorrhea) and one in five women may experience frequent and/or prolonged bleeding. If troublesome bleeding occurs, contact your physician. This can often be treated without removing the implant.
Rare adverse effects of the birth control implant include
- weight increase
- breast pain
- infection at insertion site
Serious side effects are extremely rare, but can occur. It is important to contact your physician any time you have new medical issues or questions.