The contraceptive implant is one or two small plastic rods which are about 4cm long and sit under the skin of the inside of your upper arm and prevents pregnancy for 3 to 5 years (depending on the type).
The contraceptive implant works by slowly releasing a hormone (progestin) in your blood and the hormone stops the body releasing an egg each month. The hormone also makes it harder for the man’s sperm to get into the womb.
Inserting the implant is a simple procedure that takes about five minutes. A trained person inserts the implant into the inside of your upper arm. Your arm is numbed before insertion so it is generally not painful. Once inserted the implant does not move around your body. It stays where it is inserted. You can feel it under the skin.
Dependent on when you get the implant inserted, it can take up to seven days for the implant to start working. You can use a condom during this time. It stops working when it is taken out, at which point your normal fertility returns.
Note: Condoms are the only contraceptive methods which also protect against sexually transmitted infections. To ensure protection from both pregnancy and infection, we recommend "dual protection". This means using a contraceptive method of your choice to prevent pregnancy in addition to a male or female condom.
How good is the implant at preventing a pregnancy?
- The implant works very well at preventing a pregnancy. If one hundred women used the implant for a year and carried on with their normal sex life then 99.95% of those women would not fall pregnant during that period.
- Because women don’t have to do anything once they have the implant inserted, there is no risk of user error affecting how well it works.
What are the advantages of the implant?
- Once in place, you don’t need to think about it or do anything until it needs replacing, which can be up to either three or five years depending on the type of implant you are using.
- If you want to get pregnant before that time you can simply have the implant removed at any time. Your previous fertility will return within a month after the implant is removed.
- You can start it straight after a miscarriage or abortion, and it works as soon as it is put in.
- It does not interrupt sex.
- The implant is inserted like an injection and it stays in the same place it was inserted.
- Monthly bleeding changes are not harmful and will return to normal when you remove the implant. If the changes are irritating the irregular bleeding can be managed with additional medication.
What are the disadvantages of the implant?
- Some women will continue to have regular periods with the implant. However most women will have a change in their bleeding pattern while using the implant. The amount of bleeding that women experience is typically the same or less than normal but the pattern or timing of the bleeding can be more random and/or spaced out. Some women may stop having monthly periods. These changes in bleeding are not harmful to a woman’s health and will return to normal when the implant is removed. For women that have an irritating bleeding pattern in the first 3 months of use, many of them will have improvement in the next 3 months of use.
- A small number of women may experience other side effects on the implant, such as acne, headaches, mood changes, weight gain or loss or breast tenderness. However, these symptoms usually improve over time.
- The implant sits under the skin. There may be a very small scar where the implant is inserted but it will not be obvious to others that you have an implant.
- Unlike condoms, it does not protect from sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.
What are the possible risks / complications for this method
- Difficult removal