How it Works
Implanon is thin plastic rod about one-and-a-half inches long that is placed under the skin of a woman’s upper, inner arm. It prevents pregnancy for up to three years. The implant contains the hormone progestin (etonogestrel), which works to prevent pregnancy in three ways. First, it prevents ovulation (the release of an egg from one of the ovaries). Implanon also causes the cervical mucus to thicken, blocking sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. Lastly, the implant prevents the uterine lining from thickening, making it less hospitable to implantation.
Hormonal contraceptives are only to be utilized as a form of birth control and do not protect against the transmission of HIV (AIDS) or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How to Use
Your healthcare provider will numb an area on the upper inside part of your arm. Implanon is then inserted under the skin. The procedure only takes a few minutes, and the implant remains effective for three years. After three years, or earlier if you no longer require birth control, Implanon should be removed. At the time of removal, your health care provider will once again numb the area and will make one small cut to remove the implant. If further birth control is needed, a new implant may be inserted at this time.
Implanon has been shown to prevent pregnancy in over 99% of situations when it is the only birth control method utilized and when Implanon is used exactly as directed. It is effective for three years.
Implanon costs between $400 and $800. It is more money up front than any other hormonal birth control, but the monthly average over three years makes the implant cheaper than other options.
- Implanon can be an effective method of birth control when used as specified. The most evident advantage is the long-term birth control it provides. Of all the hormonal birth control methods, the Implant is effective the second longest (Mirena lasts up to five years), offering continuous pregnancy prevention with no hassle for three years.
- Many consider the Implant to be compatible with breastfeeding, because it does not utilize estrogen and only small amounts of the progestin pass through the breast milk. Progestin is also not shown to have adverse effects on a baby’s health, weight gain or development. Talk to your healthcare provider about when is the best time to have the implant placed post-childbirth.
- Unlike many other hormone-based birth controls, Implanon contains no estrogen and may not cause the typical side effects associated with the other methods, such as breast tenderness and nausea.
- Most women using Implanon experience changes to their menstrual cycle such as lighter or fewer periods. After the first year, one in three women who use the Implant stops having a period entirely.
Less than four percent of women may have implant site complications.
Etonogestrel, the progestin component of the Implant, is the active breakdown product, or metabolite, of desogestrel. Desogestrel is a third-generation progestin, which some studies have shown to increase the risk of venous thromboembolic events (blood clots in the legs and/or the lungs).
All hormonal birth control methods, including Implanon, can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack, especially for women who smoke and/or are older than 35. Women who are taking oral contraceptives should not smoke.
Possible side effects include
- Pain at insertion site
- Changes in menstruation such as longer, heavier periods or spotting between periods
- Mild Nausea, bloating, stomach cramps, back pain
- Dizziness or tired feeling
- Hair loss
- Vaginal itching or discharge
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Viral infections (colds, sinus infections, flu-like symptoms, etc)