Contraceptive implant Nexplanon

what is contraceptive implant

What is it?

There are many methods of contraception out there and the extensive range of options can make it difficult to choose the right one for you and your body. One popular method in preventing pregnancy is Nexplanon. This option involves the insertion of an implant contraceptive under the skin of your non-writing arm.

The implant is around 4cm x 2mm and made from a flexible plastic, giving it a small rod-like appearance and feel. It is manufactured from ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer and barium sulphate which makes it safe to be inserted into the human body. The former material means the plastic is incapable of dissolving and the barium sulphate allows the implant to be visible during x-rays for safety. The implant contains 68 mgs of etonogestrel which is the key component needed to prevent pregnancy.

how implant is working

How does it work?

This key component is slowly and continuously released into the bloodstream and will prevent pregnancy in two different ways. Etonogestrel stops an egg from being released by the ovaries so there is no egg to fertilise in the first place, as well as causing the cervix to change and make it significantly more difficult for sperm to enter the womb.

The Nexplanon has enough etonogestrel to cause these changes for 3 years. After 3 years, it is likely that you can get pregnant and you will need to either replace or remove your implant.

It is a convenient alternative to other popular methods such as the pill because unlike the pill, it does not require any more action on the user's part. While you can forget to take your medication, the implant is continually working without any effort needed on your behalf. Which is also why the Nexplanon effectiveness rate is above 99% - one of the best among all contraceptive options!

advantages of nexplanon

Who is Nexplanon aimed at?

Nexplanon implant contraception is aimed at women between 18 and 40 years of age. It will be effective for 3 years but if you are overweight your healthcare professional may advise that your implant will need removing or replacing earlier. There may be a medical reason why you cannot use Nexplanon such as allergies and more complex health issues. It is best to speak to your doctor to find out if this contraceptive implant is suitable and safe for you.

female implant nexplanon

Using Nexplanon safely

Having your Nexplanon implant inserted should only be carried out by a trained professional. If they do not fit it correctly, it is likely that you will not be protected from unplanned pregnancy. The implant will be inserted within the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle, but other timeframes may be used if Nexplanon is replacing other hormonal contraception.

advantages of female implant

Nexplanon insertion

Insertion of an implant contraceptive requires a number of steps. First, your doctor will get you to lie down with the underside of your non-writing arm exposed. They will then clean the area and apply local anaesthetic. The implant is inserted using a needle. The whole needle will enter the skin, so it's fully inserted.

Your healthcare professional will then assess that the implant has been sufficiently positioned. You will be able to feel it yourself just under your skin. A correctly inserted will allow you to feel both ends of the implant. Until confirmation that the implant is correctly inserted, you should not assume you are exercising safe sex.

The minor procedure may cause bruising and a bandage will then be applied that can be removed after a few days. Upon leaving your doctor's office, you will be handed a card to establish the date on which your contraceptive implant must be replaced or removed. We recommend storing this information in a secondary safe place.

If you decide to replace your implant instantly after the 3 years has elapsed, this can be done in most cases. It is often possible to have one removed and a new one inserted during the same appointment.

nexplanon implant contraception

Additional information

It is important to note that Nexplanon does not protect from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) or HIV (AIDS) and to protect yourself from these you will need to seek out non-hormonal forms of contraception, such as condoms or femidoms.

Nexplanon may cause changes to your menstrual cycle. These changes can vary between becoming more frequent, less frequent, short, absent, prolonged, irregular and in some cases, heavier. It is not unheard of that Nexplanon can ease period pain as well. The menstrual cycle you experience in the initial months of using Nexplanon usually indicates how your cycle will react for the duration of using this contraceptive method.

advantages of female implant

Discontinuing Nexplanon

Nexplanon can be removed at any time at your discretion. On rare occasions, locating the exact position of your implant can be difficult and may require surgical removal. If you are discontinuing use of Nexplanon as you are aiming to get pregnant, it is advised to wait until you have experienced a contraceptive-free period, so you can calculate when your baby is due more accurately.

nexplanon disadvantages

Possible risks and side effects

Nexplanon can cause side effects and the exact ones which you will experience, if any, is unknown. One of the most common side effect is a change to your menstrual cycle and the heaviness of your period. Do not be alarmed by these disadvantages as these changes will not affect the effectiveness of your contraception but if you are concerned, you may wish to consult a doctor.

Other side effects include:

    very common - may affect more than 1 in 10 women

  • acne
  • headache
  • increase or decrease in body weight
  • breasts tenderness and pain
  • irregular bleeding
  • infection of thevagina
  • common - may affect up to 1 in 10 women

  • hair loss
  • dizziness
  • depressive moods
  • emotional lability
  • nervousness
  • decreased sexual drive
  • increased appetite
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • gas in stomach and intestines
  • painful menstruation
  • influenza - like symptoms
  • pain
  • fatigue
  • hot flushes
  • site pain and/or reaction
  • ovarian cyst.
  • uncommon - may affect up to 1 in 100 women

  • itching
  • itching in the genital area
  • rash
  • excessive hair growth
  • migraine
  • anxiety
  • sleeplessness and/or sleepiness
  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • urinary tract infection
  • vaginal discomfort (e.g. vaginal secretion)
  • breast enlargement
  • breast secretion
  • back pain
  • fever
  • fluid retention
  • difficult or painful urination
  • allergic reactions
  • inflammation and pain of the throat
  • rhinitis
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • skeletal pain

Nexplanon effectiveness is unquestionably one of the best out of all the contraceptive options available. Yet, alike any hormonal contraceptive, you should take your time to consider if Nexplanon is the correct method for you and your lifestyle.

Last updated August 13, 2018