How Does the Contraceptive Implant Work?

The contraceptive implant (Nexplanon) is a small flexible plastic rod that’s placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse.

It releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy and lasts for 3 years.

 

Facts about the implant

  • The implant is more than 99% effective.
  • Once the implant is in place, you don’t have to think about it again for 3 years.
  • It can be useful for women who can’t use contraception that contains oestrogen.
  • It’s very useful for women who find it difficult to remember to take a pill at the same time every day.
  • The implant can be taken out if you have side effects.
  • You can have it removed at any time, and your natural fertility will return very quickly.
  • When it’s first put in, you may feel some bruising, tenderness or swelling around the implant.
  • Your periods may become irregular, lighter, heavier or longer.
  • A common side effect is that your periods stop (amenorrhoea). It’s not harmful, but you may want to consider this before deciding to have an implant.
  • Some medicines can make the implant less effective.
  • It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use condoms as well.

 

How it works

The implant steadily releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream, which prevents the release of an egg each month (ovulation).

It also thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to move through the cervix, and thins the lining of the womb so a fertilised egg is less likely to implant itself.

 

When it starts to work

You can have the implant put in at any time during your menstrual cycle, as long as you’re not pregnant.

If the implant is fitted during the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle, you’ll be immediately protected against becoming pregnant.

If it’s fitted on any other day of your menstrual cycle, you’ll need to use additional contraception (such as condoms) for 7 days.

 

How is a contraceptive implant fitted or removed?

local anaesthetic is used to numb the area on the inside of your upper arm.

The implant is then inserted under your skin – it only takes a few minutes to put in and feels like having an injection. You won’t need any stitches after your implant has been fitted.

Nexplanon works for 3 years before it needs to be replaced. You can use this method until you reach menopause, when a woman’s monthly periods stop naturally.

The implant can be removed at any time by a specially trained doctor or nurse. It only takes a few minutes to remove, and a local anaesthetic will be used. The doctor or nurse will make a tiny cut in your skin to gently pull the implant out.

As soon as the implant has been removed, you’ll no longer be protected against pregnancy.

 

Who can use the implant

Most women can be fitted with the contraceptive implant.

It may not be suitable if you:

  • think you might be pregnant
  • don’t want your periods to change
  • take other medicines that may affect the implant
  • have unexplained bleeding in between periods or after sex
  • have arterial diseaseor a history of heart disease or stroke
  • have liver disease
  • have breast canceror have had it in the past
  • have a medical condition that may affect which contraception you can use – speak to your GP or practice nurse, or visit your nearest sexual health clinic to discuss further

 

Advantages and disadvantages of the implant

Advantages:

  • it works for 3 years
  • it doesn’t interrupt sex
  • it’s an option if you can’t use oestrogen-based contraception, such as the combined contraceptive pill, contraceptive patch or vaginal ring
  • it’s safe to use while you’re breastfeeding
  • your fertility will return to normal as soon as the implant is taken out
  • it may reduce heavy periodsor period pain

 

Disadvantages:

  • you may experience temporary side effects during the first few months, like headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings
  • your periods may be irregular or stop altogether
  • you may get acne or your acne might get worse
  • you’ll need a small procedure to have it fitted and removed
  • it doesn’t protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use additional contraception (such as condoms) as well

 

At Pall Mall, we offer several contraception services for both men and women. For more information click here or call us on 03300 58 44 55.

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