Birth Control Implant

Nexplanon is thin and flexible, created as a plastic implant roughly the size of a matchstick. Previously called Implanon, this implant is inserted into the upper arm, but it is manufactured to be small enough that no one will notice this method of birth control once it is implanted. It can be trusted to protect against pregnancy for as long as three years.

How Does the Birth Control Implant Work?

The tube for this implant contains etonogestrol, an estrogen hormone. Once implanted, the tube begins to release small amounts of this hormone. It then stops the ovary from releasing an egg (by suppressing the pituitary gland as well), thickens cervical mucus to inhibit the sperm from reaching the egg and also changes the lining of the uterus. Available in the US, Nexplanon must be inserted by a health professional.

How Effective Is the Birth Control Implant?

It is very important that the birth control method you choose is effective. When it comes to the birth control implant, it is very effective, as only one in 100 women become pregnant while using this method of birth control. Lasting for as long as three years, it's very appealing as a method of birth control.

When Is the Birth Control Implant Inserted?

When it comes to birth control, it is important to start any method at the right point in your monthly cycle. This helps prevent pregnancy most effectively. The birth control implant is inserted into the arm within the first seven days of your menstrual cycle, after a routine pregnancy test has been done. It can also be inserted while you are taking oral contraception. If you are on Depo-Provera, you can also have this birth control method inserted. It simply requires an appointment with your health care provider.

How Is It Inserted?

This process is actually quite simple, only taking about a minute for the actual insertion. As the patient, you will lie on a table with the arm to receive the implant bent at the elbow and resting near your head. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area where the implant will go, typically a groove between the bicep and tricep muscles. The implant must be positioned under the skin but not too deep as to make removing it difficult.

Once the process is complete, the health care provider will confirm that the implant is in place. This is done with tactile pressure or even an ultrasound or x-ray. A bandage will cover the area. Some health care providers opt for a pressure bandage to help decrease the bruising that will occur in that area. If a pressure bandage is used, that should be removed in 24 hours. Otherwise, a bandage should be kept over the area for three days.

Watch Out for Any Conditions Afterwards

For those who opt for this birth control, the first few weeks after insertion are spent watching for certain conditions. These issues can result in serious health concerns if you are not aware and watching for the development.

Contact your health care provider immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding
  • Lumps in either breast
  • Redness, swelling, discharge or tenderness at the site of the insertion
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes, which can indicate jaundice
  • Pain and tenderness in the calf area that does not go away (sign of a blood clot)
  • Any signs of pregnancy

Is It Suitable for All Women?

This particular method of birth control is not ideal for certain women, including those who are currently pregnant, have previously had breast cancer, have a serious liver disease and/or those who have unexplained bleeding from the vagina.

It is important to understand, however, that some medications can interfere with the birth control implant and make it less effective. Medications to treat TB, HIV, anti-seizure medications, oral treatments for yeast infections, medications for mental illnesses and St. John's wart (an herbal supplement) can interfere with this type of birth control.

Possible Side Effects

Pregnancy is still possible for about one of every 100 women that use Nexplanon, typically occurring in the first year. For those who do get pregnant, there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. This means the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube or another location outside the womb.

With the birth control implant, women have a risk of certain side effects. Those include decreased sex drive, dizziness, an increased risk of non-cancerous cysts, abdominal pain, absence of menstrual cycle, back pain, mood swings, nausea, headaches, mild resistance to insulin and even an interaction with other medications she is taking. Some women also experience tender breasts, gain weight and have dryness in the vaginal area.

Birth Control Implant Reviews

Mood swings, weight gain, dryness in vagina and lack of menstrual cycle

"As a user of the Nexplanon implant, I had significant mood swings, feeling violent and depressed by turns. I also gained weight, approximately 20 pounds. I am not sure that was related to the choice of birth control, however. I do drink soda. I have also experienced both the lack of a menstrual cycle and dryness in the vaginal area, requiring lubrication for sexual activity. One thing I have noticed is that now that I am at the end of the three-year period of effectiveness, I am once again experiencing mood swings."

Lack of period and occasional spotting

"I have had Nexplanon for two years and have not had a period at all while on this birth control. I have not gained weight, which I know other people have had happen. I have had spotting on occasion, and it was usually old blood and only lasted two days. I am 20 years old."

Constant bleeding

"I do not like my Nexplanon implant. I had it inserted two months ago. Since then, I have not stopped bleeding. This interferes with my sex life, and I am afraid my significant other will get tired of waiting and cheat on me. I feel like the health provider lied to me, as they told me there would be little bleeding associated with this type of birth control. I would not recommend this implant to anyone."