WHAT IS THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT?
The contraceptive implant, often called ‘the rod’ is a small flexible plastic rod that contains a progestogen hormone. It is inserted under the skin on the underside of the upper arm where it slowly releases a small amount of this hormone over three years.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The contraceptive implant mainly works by stopping the egg being released from the ovary (ovulation). This prevents pregnancy occurring. It also increases the thickness of mucus in the cervix which make it hard for any sperm to travel through and fertilise an egg.
HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
The contraceptive implant is effective for three years, but can be removed earlier if you wish.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?
The contraceptive implant is a very effective contraceptive method and is 99.95% effective at preventing pregnancy.
WHO CAN USE THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT?
The contraceptive implant is suitable for most women to use. Your doctor will be able to help you decide if it is suitable for you. There are some women for who it is not suitable, these include the following:
- Women who might be pregnant.
- Women who have had breast cancer or reproductive organ cancers.
- Women with severe liver disease.
- Women who have undiagnosed abnormal vaginal bleeding.
- Women on certain medications which may interfere with the action of Implanon.
ADVANTAGES OF THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT
- It gives you 3 years of highly effective contraception with no need to do anything on a daily basis.
- It gives you contraceptive cover straight away if it is inserted in the first five days of your cycle.
- It can be removed if side effects are not acceptable or if you wish to become pregnant.
- Normal fertility returns quickly after removal.
- It is a low-cost method of contraception.
- It can be used by breastfeeding women.
DISADVANTAGES OF THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT
The disadvantages of the contraceptive implant are:
- It requires a minor surgical procedure to insert and remove it.
- It does not provide protection against sexually transmissible infections.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
The most common side effect of the contraceptive implant are changes to menstrual bleeding, these changes can include:
- No bleeding.
- Infrequent spotting or bleeding.
- Prolonged or frequent spotting or bleeding.
OTHER POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE:
- Breast discomfort.
- Acne may develop or worsen, although some women may find that acne improves.
- Local reactions at the site of the insertion (see possible risks).
- Some women report weight changes or mood changes, but available evidence does not support the idea that the implant causes these.
- Progestogen hormones can be associated with development of cysts on the ovary, but these types of cyst usually disappear spontaneously, and rarely cause symptoms or need treatment.
WHEN AND HOW IS IT INSERTED AND REMOVED?
The implant is inserted by a doctor or nurse who has been specially trained to do this procedure. The insertion is a simple procedure which involves a small amount of local anaesthetic to numb the skin, then the implant is inserted just under the skin in the inner aspect of your upper arm. A crepe bandage will be placed around that part of your arm for 24 hours to reduce swelling and bruising and also to reduce any risk of infection.
The implant is usually inserted in the first five days of your period but it can be inserted at other times if there is no chance that you could be pregnant. When it is inserted within the first 5 days of your period it is effective immediately. When it is inserted at other times in your cycle it will take 7 days to be effective. It is safe to have it inserted following the birth of a baby.
The implant can be left in place for three years, after this time it will need to be replaced. It can be removed earlier if desired. Removal is usually a simple procedure which involves a small amount of local anaesthetic to numb the skin before a very small incision is made and the implant removed.
Possible risks of insertion are unusual, and include:
- Bruising, soreness, infection.
- Possible scarring at the site of the insertion.
- Possible difficulty removing the implant.
- Allergy to the anaesthetic or to the implant itself.
WHERE CAN I GET THE CONTRACEPTIVE IMPLANT?
The contraceptive implant is available through family planning clinics, including SHFPACT, as well as through GPs and gynaecologists.
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