The birth control implant -- more commonly known by its brand names, Implanon and Nexplanon -- is a small, flexible plastic rod the size of a match stick that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It can prevent pregnancy for up to three years. Many people like this method of birth control because it's extremely cost-effective, the ability to become pregnant quickly returns once it's removed, and there's no need to pause in the heat of the moment to grab protection.
The implant is a hormonal birth control method. It releases the hormone "progestin" which prevents pregnancy in two ways:
- preventing ovulation; ie, keeping the ovaries from releasing an egg (if there's no egg, there's nothing for the sperm to fertilize)
- thickening the cervical mucus, therefore making it difficult for the sperm to swim and preventing them from reaching the eggs
In terms of effectiveness, this is one of the best performing birth control methods. Less than 1 out of
100 people using Implanon will get pregnant in a year. However, it's important to keep in mind that it does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Unless you are in a relationship where you know for a fact that everyone involved has been tested and is free of STIs, you should still use a condom when having sex.
As with any other method, there are disadvantages:
|The Implant is highly effective.|
- Implanon requires a doctor's visit to be inserted and removed.
- Irregular bleeding for the first 6-12 months is a common side-effect, but this should stop after your body adjusts to the hormones. Most people report that they have fewer, lighter periods -- after one year, 1 out of 3 people who use the Implant will stop having periods entirely.
Some of the less common side-effects include: scarring or discoloration on the skin over the Implant, pain at the insertion site, change in sex drive, sore breasts, and weight gain.
If you decide that Implanon is the method that's best for you, you'll have to schedule a doctor's appointment. After giving you a general physical check-up and asking about your medical history, the doctor will numb a small area of your upper arm, then insert the Implant under the skin. This usually only takes a few minutes!
The Implant can last as long as you want it to, for up to three years. It can be removed at any time. The doctor will once again numb a small area of your upper arm, then make a small cut to remove the Implant. If three years have passed and you decide you want to keep using this method, a new Implant can be inserted at the time of removal. If you want a long-term method that lasts longer than three years, you may want to consider the IUD.
All in all, Implanon is a safe, highly effective long-term birth control method. Because there is only an initial fee for insertion, it is one of the lowest cost methods as well.