At a glance; the implant
- This plastic, rod-shaped implant has been found to be more than 99% effective in women.
- Once implanted, it remains functional for 3 years.
- For women who are unable to use estrogen containing contraceptives, this is a preferable contraceptive method.
- It is highly recommended for women who do not want to go through the stress of taking pills daily or those who have difficulty remembering to take their pills correctly.
- The implant can always be removed, if you develop any side effects.
- It doesn’t have any effect on fertility after removal.
- When the plastic rod is newly implanted, you may develop bruises, swelling or tenderness around the implant site,
- It may cause your periods to become lighter, heavier, irregular or longer.
- One of the most common side effects is amenorrhea (complete absence of your period). You may need to consider this before making your decision.
- Certain medications can alter its effectiveness
- You may need to use a condom in addition to the implant because it proffers no protection against STIs.
How it works
The plastic rod-shaped implant contains a hormone which is continually released into your bloodstream and this hormone helps to stop the monthly release of the ova (egg) from the ovary.
It also causes thickening and increased production of mucus produced by the cervix, thereby preventing the sperm from passing through the cervix to get to the egg. The implant causes thinning of the lining of your womb in other to reduce the chance of implantation of a fertilized egg.
When it starts to work
As long as you are not pregnant or don’t suspect that you are, the implant can be fixed for you at any time during your cycle. Although the time in during which it is fixed determines how much protection it would offer you initially.
If it fixed anytime during first five days of your menstruation cycle, it would proffer immediate and complete protection against pregnancy.
However, if you have it fixed any time after the first five days of your cycle, you would be required to use an extra contraceptive method like condoms, for at first 7 days.
After giving Birth
The implant can be fixed any time after delivery.
If it is implanted within the first 21 days after delivery, it would proffer immediate and complete protection against pregnancy.
If it is implanted after the first 21 days after delivery, you would be required to make use of extra contraceptives such as condoms, for at least 7 days.
The implants can also be used during breastfeeding, as they are considered safe.
After a miscarriage or abortion
You can have the implant fixed immediately after a miscarriage and abortion. If this is done, it offers complete and immediate protection against pregnancy.
How is a contraceptive implant fixed or removed?
To fix the implant, local anaesthesia is administered to the area where it is to be fitted (usually the upper arm). This helps to numb feelings around the selected are of the skin.
Afterwards, the implant is fitted beneath your skin, like an injection and this process takes only a few minutes. Once the implant has been fixed, you would need no stitches to keep it in place.
Nexplanon is able to offer you protection for 3 years, after which you would need to replace it. You can make use of this contraceptive method for a long time, even up to menopause (when your monthly cycle stops naturally).
Just as it can be fixed at any time, it can also be removed any time you want, but would require the help of a specially trained medical professional. Removing it would only take a few minutes and a local aneasthetic would also be administered to you. To remove this implant from your skin, the doctor or nurse will make a small cut at the area where the implant is located and then gently pull it out.
Once the implant has been removed, it ceases to protect you from pregnancy.
Who can use the implant?
Almost every woman can have the contraceptive implant fitted. However it may not be recommended o suitable for youif:
- Suspect that you might be pregnant
- Are on certain medications that can alter its effectiveness.
- Want your monthly cycle to remain the same
- Bleed in between your periods or after sexual intercourse.
- Have or have any arterial condition or a history of heart conditions or a stroke.
- Have been diagnosed with a liver condition.
- Have or have had breast cancer previously.
- Have any health condition, that has an effect on the kind of contraception suitable for you-ensure you consult your GP or nurse for professional advice or visit the nearest sexual health clinic to you for help.
- It can be used for 3 years
- Doesn’t interfere with sex.
- It is a suitable option for women who cannot use oestrogen-based contraceptives, such as the contraceptive patch, combined contraceptive pill or the vaginal ring.
- It is safe for breastfeeding mothers
- It doesn’t have any effect on fertility after use- fertility remains as it was before use.
- It may make your period lighter and also less painful.
- When the implant is initially fixed, you may experience some minor but temporary side effects for a few months. Some of these symptoms include headaches, breast tenderness, nausea and mood swings.
- It may cause your period to become irregular or stop completely.
- It may worsen your acne, if you have any or make you develop some.
- You would require a minor procedure to get it fixed or removed.
- It proffers no protection against STIs (sexually transmitted infections). In other words, you may need to make use of extra contraceptive such as condoms, especially if you at a high risk of infection.
Will other medicines affect the implant?
Certain medications can alter the effectiveness of the implant, some of such medications include:
- Medications used for the treatment of tuberculosis, HIV and epilepsy.
- Herbal remedies such as St John’s Wort.
- Certain antibiotics such as rifampicin or rifabutin.
Women who are taking either of these medications would need to make use of extra contraceptives such as condoms or can use a different contraceptive method instead, that would have no effect on their medications.
Ensure to tell your doctor about your contraceptive implant if medications are prescribed for you. You can always ask your doctor, if the medications being prescribed to you would affect the effectiveness of the implant.
Risks of the implant
In very few cases, the area of your skin where the contraceptive implant is fixed may become infected. In such a situation, you would be required to take antibiotics to clear up the infection.
However, it may be necessary to see your GP or healthcare professional immediately, if:
- You can no longer feel the implant where it was fixed.
- The shape of the implant changes
- You get pregnant
- You notice any skin discolorations, pain or any other changes at the area where the implant was fitted.
Where can I get a contraceptive implant fitted or removed?
- All community contraception clinics
- Certain genitourinary (GUM) clinics
- Certain young people’s services.
The contraceptive services offered at these clinics are free and also kept private, regardless of your age (under 16 included). Note that, not all GPs or nurses can fix or remove the contraceptive implants, so you may need to check at your GP surgery.