Though not as popular as some other hormonal birth control methods, the birth control implant — also known as Nexplanon — is a safe and effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy. With a simple installation and long-lasting effectiveness, the implant is a great option for women with active lifestyles who don’t want to have to think about their birth control.
While we don’t offer the birth control implant here at Nurx, we still want to make sure that you have a complete understanding of the birth control options you have available. If you’re considering getting the implant, check out our guide below to get some more information on what that might look like.
How does the birth control implant work?
The birth control implant prevents pregnancy by releasing regular doses of progestin into a woman’s body. Progestin is a naturally-occurring hormone that, in higher doses, stops ovulation from taking place. Ovulation — the release of a fertile egg into the fallopian tubes — is required for pregnancy to occur, so no ovulation means no pregnancy.
The uptick in progestin also thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to get to the egg at all. In addition, the lining of the uterus becomes thin which makes it difficult for any fertilized eggs to attach to the ovum. Though the implant is highly effective at preventing pregnancy, it does not protect against any sexually transmitted infections.
The implant itself is a 1.6-inch long thin rod made of a flexible plastic that contains approximately 68 milligrams of the hormone progestin. Once inserted under the skin, it releases around 62 micrograms of progestin each day. It releases between 60 and 70 micrograms of progestin when first installed, but this amount tapers off over time as your body becomes more accustomed to higher levels of the hormone.
How do I get the birth control implant?
A medical professional needs to administer the birth control implant in person, which means you’ll need to visit a trained doctor or nurse in order to get your implant. They will assess your medical history and determine if you’re fit to receive an implant.
Once you get approved to receive an implant, the process of insertion is quick and easy. The implant is normally placed in the upper arm after the area is numbed. While the numbing shot might feel like a slight pinch, the actual process of implantation doesn’t hurt at all.
Women who receive their implant within the first 5 days after their period begins will be immediately protected against pregnancy. If you get the implant inserted at any other time in your cycle, you’ll need to wait 7 days before the implant begins to be fully effective.
How effective is the birth control implant?
The birth control implant is over 99% effective, making it one of the most effective hormonal birth control methods out there. Because there is no room for missing doses or messing up your schedule, the implant is guaranteed to constantly deliver you the hormones you need to be protected.
The implant also lasts a long time — most have enough hormones to stay effective for between 3 and 5 years. The implant can be removed at any time by a medical professional for women who are no longer interested in using it.
Is the birth control implant safe?
The birth control implant is a completely safe option for the vast majority of women. While some women may experience mild side effects while using the implant, most will have no issues at all.
The implant, like the minipill and the shot, does not contain estrogen. Estrogen is commonly found in other forms of birth control like the combination pill and the ring, and increased doses of it can pose serious risks to women over 35 who smoke. The lack of estrogen also makes the implant a good option for women who are breastfeeding.
Side Effects of the Implant
Side effects of the implant are rare, but some that can appear include:
- Mood swings
- Spotting between periods
- Breast tenderness
- Stomach pain
- Pain at the site of insertion
All of these side effects tend to be mild and go away after the implant has been in for several months. Women who experience more serious side effects such as severe leg or chest pain should contact a doctor immediately.
Most medications will not produce negative interactions with the implant, but a handful of drugs used to treat tuberculosis, HIV, and seizures may interfere. Make sure your doctor is made aware of any medications you take when you discuss the implant with them.
How do I know if the birth control implant is right for me?
The implant’s longevity and high rate of efficacy makes it stand out from other hormonal birth control methods. Women who want long-term protection against pregnancy with minimal maintenance will find the implant particularly convenient, as will women who want to be as protected as possible.
Women who are interested in reducing or skipping their periods might also be drawn to the implant, as around a third of women stop having their periods after the implant has been in for a year. Unlike some other methods, however, the implant does not give you the option of keeping your period — something women considering the implant should keep in mind.
The implant is also a great option for women who are interested in getting pregnant soon after its removal. While some birth control options require several months of waiting before women can get pregnant again, the implant’s continuous stream of low doses allows you to get pregnant as soon as it’s removed.
The implant may be an affordable option — most rods cost between $0 and $1000 depending on the brand and your insurance. While the cost of your implant may seem high, several years of continuous use usually brings the average monthly cost down to just a few dollars.
We don’t offer the implant, but we’re still here to help. Reach out to one of our birth control experts today to see which birth control method is right for you and how you can get it at the right price.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.