What is the birth control implant?

The birth control implant, is a long-acting progestin (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 three years. After three years, it must be removed and a new one can be inserted. The implant is available under the brand names Implanon and Nexplanon. 

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?

When the implant is inserted correctly by an experienced provider, chances of getting pregnant when on Nexplanon are very low. There is less than one pregnancy per 100 users. The implant does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.

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. Other side effects can 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, pain, and/or pain at insertion location.

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.

  • Ectopic pregnancy: If a pregnancy occurs while using Implanon, then there is a higher chance that the pregnancy will be ectopic, where the fetus develops outside of the uterus.    

  • Ovarian cysts: Cysts may develop. Some cysts go away on their own while some may need to be surgically removed.

  • Blood clots: Implanon may increase the risk of serious blood clots.

  • Hormonal contraception methods, like Implanon, can 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 Implanon may lower its effectiveness.

Immediately after Implanon has been placed, you and your healthcare provider should check that the implant is in your arm by feeling it.

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 while on Implanon. 

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 $400-1300. Removal of an implant costs between $100-300. 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.

Related Links

For more information about Implanon and Nexplanon you can visit:

Implanon manufacturer website

Nexplanon manufacturer website

Planned Parenthood

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    Health Promotion
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    Health Services
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    Sexual Assault Response Line
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  • 401.863-3476
    Counseling & Psychological Services
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