Easy-to-read information about the contraceptive implant.
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What is the contraceptive implant?
The contraceptive implant is a form of contraception for women, to prevent pregnancy. It contains only one hormone, progesterone. It does not contain oestrogen.
- The contraceptive implant are small rods (about the size of a matchstick) that contains progesterone. These rods are placed under the skin, in the inside of your arm (you can feel the rods under your skin).
- The implants works by slowly releasing progesterone into your bloodstream. Progesterone thickens the mucus in the cervix so sperm can’t travel through it and may also stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. In this way it prevents pregnancy.
- The contraceptive implant is referred to as a long-acting form of contraception, which means that once you have had it fitted, you don't have to remember about it every day or every time you have sex, until the next implant is due.
- Its effect is reversible which means that your natural fertility returns to normal.
How well does the contraceptive implant work?
- The contraceptive implant is a very reliable form of contraception.
- It is usually 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, which means that about one out of every 100 women who use the implant will get pregnant each year.
How is the contraceptive implant inserted?
The implant will be inserted by your doctor or a trained nurse, in the inner side of your upper arm. A check will be made to ensure it is inserted correctly. Once this is confirmed, it is effective straight away.
- The implant is usually first inserted within five days of a period starting, to ensure that you are not pregnant.
- It will be placed in the inner side of your upper arm. You will be given an injection of local anaesthetic to numb your skin, and a special needle will be used to put the implant in place.
- After the procedure, the insertion site will be closed with a skin closure and bandaged. Keep the wound dry and bandaged for three days. Do not bump the insertion site or lift anything heavy with that arm during this time.
- The area around the implant may be bruised and sore for a few days, but the wound will soon heal just like any other small cut.
- If you wish to continue with this form of contraception, a replacement implant is needed every three to five years. It requires a small procedure under local anaesthetic to remove the old implant and put in a new one.
- The implant can be taken out at any time if you would like it removed. If you do not want to become pregnant, you must use another form of contraception straight away.
Who cannot use the contraceptive implant
Most women can use the contraceptive implant, however, you should not use it if:
- you have or have had blood clot in legs or lungs
- you have or have had liver disease
- you have abnormal vaginal bleeding
- you are suspected of having cancer relating to sex hormones.
Discuss with your doctor or nurse if the contraceptive implant is safe for you.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, the contraceptive implant can cause unwanted side effects.
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A number of medications and herbal supplements (e.g. St John's Wort) may interact with the contraceptive implant and increase your risk of pregnancy.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have an implant and are thinking of taking any supplements or other medications.
The following links provide further information about the contraceptive implant: