Contraceptive implant

Commonly called Jadelle or 'the implant'

Easy-to-read information about Jadelle – what is it, how is it inserted and possible side effects

Type of medicine Example
  • Long-acting reversible contraception
  • Progesterone
  • Jadelle®
  • Also called "the implant or “the rods”

What is the implant?

The implant is a form of contraception for women, to prevent pregnancy. It contains only one hormone, progesterone. It does not contain oestrogen.

  • The implant is made up of two small rods (each about the size of a matchstick) that contain progesterone. The rods are placed under your skin, on the inside of your arm (you can feel the rods under your skin). Each rod lasts for up to 5 years.
  • The implant 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 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 when the rod is removed.

Advantages

  • The implant lasts for up to 5 years.
  • It is reversible which means that you can choose to have it taken out at any time. After that, you will be able to get pregnant again.
  • The implant is useful for women who can’t take the combined pill.
  • It is useful for those who forget to take pills or attend injection appointments.

Disadvantages

  • You might have 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.
  • You might have a sore or bruised arm after the implant is put in or taken out. There is a small risk of infection.
  • Sometimes it’s not easy for the nurse or doctor to find the implant and you might have to see someone else to take it out.

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.
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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.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, the implant can cause side effects, although not all women will get them.

Irregular bleeding

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. The irregular bleeding often settles with time but if it is severe and persistent, tell your doctor or nurse.

Other side effects

Side effects What should I do?
  • Discolouration, bruising or swelling at the implant site 
  • These last for a few days 
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome 
  • Nausea (feeling sick), vomiting headache, dizziness, breast discomfort, changes in mood or appetite.
  • Tell your doctor if you are concerned
  • Acne can improve or worsen  
  • Tell your doctor if your acne worsens
  • Signs of increased pressure around the brain such as frequent, severe, ongoing headaches or problems with your vision
  • This is very rare
  • Call your doctor immediately or HealthLine on 0800 611 116

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.

Interactions

A few medicines 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.

Learn more

The following links provide further information about the implant:

Contraceptive implant NZ Family Planning
Jadelle Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets 

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 24 Jan 2019