A Guide to Contraceptive Implants

Hormonal contraceptives are available in the market for women as either injections or implants. These implants slowly release hormones in the bloodstream over regular intervals of time providing protection against pregnancy. If used the right way, contraceptive implants can be very effective.

What is a Contraceptive Implant?

A contraceptive implant is a hormonal implant that measures approximately 4 cm in length. This matchstick-sized device is inserted in the upper arm under the skin. Containing etonogestrel, the implant stops ovulation and thickens the uterine wall so that sperm cannot get through. The implants are inserted by a professional nurse or a doctor under local anaesthesia.

What are the Advantages of Contraceptive Implants?

There are many advantages of contraceptive implants which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The effectiveness of implants is close to 100 percent.
  • A single contraceptive lasts for around three years.
  • Depending on where the implant is administered, it takes only a week to start working.
  • The implant is also safe to use if you are lactating or breastfeeding.
  • Approximately 20% of women with implants do not get periods.
  • Contraceptive implants reduce period pain.
  • It is very beneficial for women who cannot tolerate oestrogen-containing medication.
  • It helps clear acne problems.

Once the implant is removed, the ovulation process resumes within three weeks.

What are the Disadvantages of Contraceptive Implants?

While there are many advantages of these implants, there are also some risks that you need to be aware of, and keep in mind. These include the following:

  • Periods can become irregular.
  • The site of the implant can experience tenderness or bruising that can last for more than a week.
  • The implant can move from its position.
  • Side effects of implant may include increase in hunger levels, breast soreness or tenderness and headaches.
  • Some medicines, such as epilepsy-protecting medicines, might stop working under the effect of implant.
  • There is a minor risk of bleeding or infection around the site of implant.
  • Having an implant does not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

How Is the Contraceptive Implant Fitted in the Arm?

The fitting and preparation of a contraceptive implant only takes a maximum of fifteen minutes. Once the implant has been placed inside the arm, the doctor will further help you understand how to check the position of the implant when needed. Once the fitting is done, your arm will be bandaged. You will be required to keep the bandage on for three to five days. During this time period, you will experience mild pain or bruising. Once your body has gotten used to the implant, the bruising will disappear.

When Should I Visit My Doctor After Implant Insertion?

Normally, there is no need to visit a doctor once the implant has been placed in your body. However, you should immediately visit your doctor if you experience the following:

  • The implant was ineffective, and you have gotten pregnant.
  • The skin around the site of the implant is painful or completely numb.
  • You cannot feel or locate the implant under your skin anymore.

Who Should Not Use Contraceptive Implants?

Following women should consider other options of birth control and stay away from contraceptive implants:

  • Women who have a history of breast cancer
  • Women who have suffered from a stroke or a heart attack
  • Women who suffer from liver disease or liver cancer
  • Women who suffer from blood clots
  • Women who are obese or overweight

How is the Contraceptive Implant Removed?

The process of contraceptive implant removal is easier than insertion. The doctor will give you a local anaesthetic. Once the site is numb, he will make an insertion and remove the implant. Once the implant has been removed, he will stitch the site up, and your skin will return back to normal without causing you any further discomfort.

If you are considering contraceptive implant as an option for birth control, consult with your nearest health professional today.

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