Contraceptive Implant
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What Is a Contraceptive Implant?


What Is The Contraceptive Implant? 

Contraceptive implants are long term birth control options for women. A contraceptive implant is a flexible plastic bar about the size of a matchstick, which is placed under the skin of the upper arm.

Contraceptive implants work by steadily releasing a low dose of progesterone hormone to thicken cervical mucus and thin the lining of the uterus (endometrium). It also suppresses ovulation as well.

Contraceptive implant insertion 

For a contraceptive implant insertion, patients lie on their back with the arm that will receive the implant bent at the elbow and positioned near their head. A local anaesthetic is injected into the groove between the biceps and triceps muscles on the inner side of the upper arm. Then an applicator is used to insert the device just beneath the skin. Inserting the device too deeply will make removal difficult.

The aftermath of a contraceptive implant insertion 

The healthcare provider feels the arm to confirm the presence of the implant. Patients are also made to do the same. If need be, an ultrasound or X-ray may be used to confirm that the device has been inserted.

The site of insertion is covered with a small bandage. A pressure bandage may also be applied to minimize bruising. The pressure bandage can be removed in 24 hours, but the small bandage must be kept clean and in place for 3 to 5 days. It’s likely to experience some degree of bruising, pain, scarring or bleeding at the insertion site, this is common.

However, if any other signs or symptoms occur, a healthcare provider must be contacted immediately. Such symptoms include:

  • Breast lumps.
  • Heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding.
  • Blood clot in the leg, and persistent pain and swelling in the calf.
  • Jaundice.
  • Infection (such as tenderness, redness, swelling or discharge) at the insertion site. 
  • Pregnancy at any time after the contraceptive implant was inserted.

How a contraceptive implant works.

Once the contraceptive implant is placed under the skin, it releases small amounts of progesterone. The hormone acts on the pituitary gland, which tells the ovaries not to release eggs. It also makes the mucus of the cervix thicker. Thereby making it harder for sperm to get to any eggs that may have been released.

Result of a contraceptive implant use

A contraceptive implant prevents pregnancy for up to three (3) years. After which it must be removed and replaced for it to be able to continue to prevent pregnancy.


How effective is contraceptive implant compared to other birth control options?

Hormonal implants work 99% all the time. 

Intra-uterine devices (IUDs) are 99% effective.

Birth control injection is 94% effective.

Birth control pills are 91% effective.

What is the process of a contraceptive implant removal? 

For a contraceptive implant removal, a local anaesthesia is injected in the arm beneath the implant. A small incision is made in the skin and the implant pushed toward the incision until the tip is visible and can be grasped with forceps.

The implant is then pulled out, the incision closed and a pressure bandage applied. This typically takes less than five minutes.

What are likely contraceptive implant side effects? 

There are likely contraceptive implant side effects that may arise from its use.

  • Abdominal or back pain.
  • It increases the risk of noncancerous ovarian cysts.
  • Changes to vaginal bleeding patterns, and disappearance of menstruation.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Slight insulin resistance.
  • Mood swings and depression.
  • Nausea or stomach upset.
  • Sore breasts.
  • Vaginal dryness or inflammation.
  • Possible weight gain.

Can anyone use a contraceptive implant? 

No! Contraceptive implants aren’t suitable for everyone. Such people include:

  • Those allergic to any components of the implant.
  • Those who have had serious blood clots, heart attack or stroke.
  • Those who have liver tumours or liver disease.
  • Those with known or suspected breast cancer or a history of breast cancer.
  • Those with undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding.

What are the benefits of using a contraceptive implant? 

Some of the benefits of contraceptive implants include:

  • Easy to use.
  • High levels of effectiveness.
  • Lasts up to three years.
  • Fertility returns the moment the implant is removed.
  • Suitable for women who can’t use birth control that contains oestrogen.

What the downsides of using a contraceptive implant?

There are several disadvantages of the contraceptive implant, which include:

  • Offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 
  • Costly to afford, if not covered by insurance.
  • Insertion is by professionals.
  • Device only lasts for 3 years, after which it must be removed.

How much does a contraceptive implant cost? 

According to the Planned Parenthood site, a contraceptive implant cost between $0 and $1300. Removal of a contraceptive implant cost up to $300. Prices may, however, change unexpectedly.

How long does a contraceptive implant work?

A contraceptive implant lasts for up to 3 years.

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