Contraceptive implants

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 that is continually released into your bloodstream, which helps stop the monthly ova (egg) release from the ovary.

It also causes thickening and increased mucus production 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 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?

Local anaesthesia is administered to the area where it is to be fitted (usually the upper arm) to fix the implant. This helps to numb feelings around the selected area of the skin.

Afterwards, the implant is fitted beneath your skin, like an injection, which takes only a few minutes. Once the implant has been fixed, you will need no stitches to keep it in place.

Nexplanon can offer you protection for 3 years, after which you would need to replace it. You can use 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 it would require the help of a specially trained medical professional. Removing it would only take a few minutes, and a local anaesthetic would also be administered. To remove this implant from your skin, the doctor or nurse will make a small cut at the area of the implant 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 suitable 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 less painful.


  • When the implant is initially fixed, you may experience some minor but temporary side effects for a few months. These symptoms include headaches, breast tenderness, nausea and mood swings.

  • It may cause your period to become irregular or stop altogether.

  • 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 use extra contraceptives such as condoms, especially if you are 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 taking either of these medications would need to use extra contraceptives such as condoms or can use a different contraceptive method instead, which would have no effect on their medications.

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. You must take antibiotics to clear up the infection in such a situation.

However, it may be necessary to see your doctor 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 discolourations, pain or 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). Not all doctors or nurses can fix or remove the contraceptive implants, so you may need to check at your surgery.