Jadelle is a form of contraception to prevent pregnancy. Find out how to use it safely and possible side effects.
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What is the implant?
The implant is a form of contraception for women, to prevent pregnancy. It contains progestogen, a hormone similar to one produced by your ovaries. It does not contain oestrogen.
- The implant is made up of two small rods (each about the size of a matchstick) that contain progestogen. The rods are placed under your skin, on the inside of your arm (you can feel the rods under your skin).
- The implant works by slowly releasing progestogen into your bloodstream. Progestogen 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 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. The implant lasts for up to 5 years.
- Its effect is reversible which means that your natural fertility returns to normal when the rod is removed.
What are the pros and cons of the implant?
✔ Don’t have to remember to take anything every day – lasts for up to 5 years.
✘ May cause irregular periods or periods that last longer. This is quite common in the first 6 months but it can last as long as you use the implant. This can be annoying, but it’s not harmful and the implant will still work. If the bleeding is a problem, you can get pills to help.
How well does the implant work?
- The 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.
- The advantage of the implant is that it lasts for up to 5 years but it can be removed at any time.
- Once the implant is removed there is an almost immediate loss of contraceptive effect and you are at immediate risk of getting pregnant.
How is the 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 5 days of a period starting, to ensure that you are not pregnant.
- You will be given an injection of local anaesthetic first to numb your skin, and a special needle will be used to put the implant in place.
- After the procedure, the area will be closed (with tape) and you will need to keep the wound dry and bandaged for three days. Do not bump the area or lift anything heavy with that arm during this time.
- The area may be bruised and sore for a few days, but the wound will soon heal just like any other small cut.
- A replacement implant is needed every 3 to 5 years. It requires a 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 after it is removed.
Who cannot use the implant
Most women can use the implant, however, you should not use it if:
- you are pregnant
- you have or have had a clotting disorder
- you have liver problems
- you have abnormal vaginal bleeding
- you have or have had breast cancer or endometrial cancer.
Discuss with your doctor or nurse if the implant is safe for you.
What are the side effects of contraceptive implant?
Like all medicines, the implant can cause side effects, although not all women will get them.
The implant can cause changes in your periods (menstrual bleeding patterns) such as irregular bleeding, bleeding between periods, longer periods, spotting or no bleeding at all. These changes in your periods do not affect its contraceptive effect - it’s not harmful and the implant will still work. The irregular bleeding often settles with time but it can be annoying and if it is severe and persistent, tell your doctor or nurse. You can get pills to help.
Other side effects
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If you can no longer feel your implant or if you notice changes in the shape of the implant or if it becomes sore, let your doctor know.
A few medicines such as some antiepileptics, antibiotics and herbal supplements may interact with the implant and increase your risk of pregnancy.
Medicines for epilepsy such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, topiramate and oxcarbazepine may reduce the contraceptive action of the implant. If you are taking these medicines another method of contraception is recommended.
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 implant:
Additional resources for healthcare professionals
Levonorgestrel (implant) NZ Formulary
Removal difficulties with Jadelle and Implanon Medsafe, NZ, 2013
Long-acting contraceptives – implants and IUDs BPAC, NZ, 2019
Contraception in early adolescence BPAC, NZ, 2011
Educational series on long acting reversible contraception Research Review, NZ, 2020
New Zealand Aotearoa’s guidance on contraception Ministry of Health, NZ, 2020