Anyone who has a womb, who has sex, or who wants to reduce heavy periods. It is an option for people who can’t use contraception containing the hormone oestrogen.
The contraceptive implant (Nexplanon) is a small flexible plastic rod that's placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse. It releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy, it's said to be 98% effective . It can also reduce heavy periods and reduce period pain. It does not protect against STIs.
The implant works for 3 years before it needs to be replaced. It can be inserted at any time, as long as you're sure you're not pregnant.
The implant can be removed at any time by a specially trained doctor or nurse. It only takes a few minutes to remove, and a local anaesthetic will be used. The doctor or nurse will make a tiny cut in your skin to gently pull the implant out.
As soon as the implant has been removed, you'll no longer be protected against pregnancy.
It's very useful for people who find it difficult to remember to take a pill at the same time every day.
The implant steadily releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream, which prevents the release of an egg each month. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to move through the cervix, and thins the lining of the womb so a fertilised egg is less likely to implant itself.
It’s common to experience temporary side effects during the first few months, like headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings. Bleeding patterns may be irregular or stop altogether (this usually settles down after a year). It can also cause or worsen acne. It's important to remember that the implant doesn’t protect you against STIs, so you will need to use a barrier method such as condoms.
A local anaesthetic is used to numb the area on the inside of your upper arm.
The implant, which is about 4cm long, is then inserted under your skin by a trained nurse or doctor. It only takes a few minutes to put in and feels like having an injection. You won’t need any stitches after your implant has been fitted.
The area may be slightly tender for a few days, but a small dressing will be added to protect it and help stop any bruising.
real life experiences
"When I was in a long term relationship with a man I was very conscious about getting pregnant so knew I needed reliable birth control. I had originally tried the pill but would often forget it when I went to stay at my dad's for the weekend, which would fill me with anxiety for the next week if I was to have sex with my boyfriend. The pill I was taking (Rigevidon) also made me feel poorly and I experienced chest pain. Therefore I decided I needed to try a new birth control which I felt well on and that I couldn’t possibly forget! For me, this was the implant! I made an appointment with my GP and had the implant fitted in my arm with a really quick procedure under local anesthetic. You have to use other contraception alongside it for the first 7 days then you’re all good to go! My periods were a bit all over the place for the first year which was annoying at times as I didn’t know when they were coming or how long/heavy they were going to be but after that they stopped completely-something that didn’t really phase me. The real game changer for me was that I was consistently protected and I didn’t have to remember to take anything! Each implant lasts 3 years before you have to get it changed which is very cost effective!" Aimee, she/her