The birth control implant is a long-acting progestin-only (hormone) method of birth control. The implant is inserted just under the skin of the inner side of the upper arm. The implant provides pregnancy protection for up to five years. After five years, it must be removed and a new one can be inserted. The implant is available under the brand name Nexplanon. The implant takes 7 days to go into effect against pregnancy after insertion and it is recommended that you use a backup method for a week after insertion. If it is inserted within the first 5 days of a period, it goes into effect immediately.
What is the birth control implant?
How does it work to prevent pregnancy?
The implant releases a hormone that stops the release of an egg from ovary. The hormone also thickens the mucus in cervix and changes the lining of the uterus, which may keep sperm from reaching the egg.
How effective is the implant in preventing pregnancy and STIs?
What are the benefits of using the implant?
The implant is a safe, convenient, simple, and long-lasting reversible method of birth control. The ability to get pregnant returns quickly when the implant is removed. It can be used while breastfeeding and by those who cannot take estrogen. Other advantages are that there is no medicine to remember to take every day and nothing needs to be put in place before vaginal intercourse.
What are the side effects?
The most common side effect is a change in the menstrual bleeding pattern. Irregular bleeding is very common with the Nexplanon. This looks different for everyone and is most common in the first 3-6 months after insertion. For example, you may have no period, you may have a regular period, or you may have spotting throughout the month. Other side effects that are less common include mood swings, weight gain, headaches, acne, depressed mood, vaginitis, breast pain, throat infection or flu-like symptoms, stomach pains, painful periods, nervousness, back pain, nausea, dizziness, and pain or bruising at insertion location for a couple of weeks.
Other rare but serious side effects include:
- Problems with insertion and removal: The implant could possibly not be inserted at all, or it might fall out, and pregnancy could occur. If the implant is not where it should be, then removal will be extremely difficult and may result in a hospitalization where it can be removed surgically. If you ever think that your Nexplanon may be bent or broken, which is very rare, contact your health provider.
- Ectopic pregnancy: If a pregnancy occurs while using Nexplanon, then there is a slightly higher chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic, where the fetus develops outside of the uterus.
- Ovarian cysts: Like with most hormonal birth controls, cysts may develop. Most cysts go away on their own, however some may need to be surgically removed.
- Blood clots: Nexplanon may increase the risk of serious blood clots, especially if you have other risk factors such as being a smoker.
- Hormonal contraception methods, like Nexplanon, can slightly increase your risk for high blood pressure, gallbladder problems, or tumors in the liver.
Important things to note:
- Make sure to tell your provider about any other medications you may be taking, since the use of some other medications while on Nexplanon may lower its effectiveness.
- If you have any concerns after the Nexplanon is inserted, you can always get it checked by a health provider. After insertion, the provider will place paper stitches and a gauze around your arm to protect the insertion site for 24 hours. Bruising can last for a couple of weeks and is very common since the implant goes under the skin. Ice can help with this.
Who should not use the birth control implant?
You should not use the birth control implant if...
You are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
Have had serious blood clots.
Have liver disease or a liver tumor.
Have unexpected vaginal bleeding.
Have breast cancer or any cancer sensitive to progestin.
You are allergic to anything in the implant.
You have had or have breast cancer.
You smoke. Smoking may increase your risk of developing serious blood clots.
Where can I get the birth control implant and how much does it cost?
If you are interested in getting the birth control implant, depending on your health insurance plan, Health Services may be able to provide the insertion on site and without cost or at low cost or can refer you to a local provider. Without insurance, at providers besides Health Services, the cost of the exam, insertion, and implant ranges from $450-800. Removal of an implant costs up to $300. Your health insurance may cover the cost of the implant in whole or in part. You can call your health insurance company to find out more about your coverage.