The contraceptive implant also known as Implanon has been available worldwide since 1998 but has only just been approved by the UK in 2005 and 2007 for the US. Implanon is a plastic implant that is injected under the skin usually the forearm; it slowly releases progesterone to prevent pregnancy for up to three years.
Implanon is most commonly requested by teenagers are younger women who have trouble remembering to take the pill every day. It has become so popular that millions of women in the UK alone use Implanon as their number one choice for contraception.
Like all contraception it is not 100% guaranteed to protect against unwanted pregnancy so there is always a risk. The most common side effects are:
- Prolonged vaginal bleeding
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Changes to sexual desire
The advantage to most is that once it is in place you are protected for 3 years and there’s no need for regular checkups or remembering to take a pill every day. Another plus side is that many women report getting no periods at all so they no longer have to worry about sanitary towels or tampons.
So it all sounds very good but what about all the negative points to having the contraceptive implant?
The NHS has reported that they have received nearly 2000 complaints regarding the implant failing and them getting pregnant, some women have gone on to miscarry when they did not know they were pregnant and others have been faced with the difficult decision of having a termination. The most common reason for the implant failing is not inserting it properly, it should sit right under the skin but many nurses and doctors have been injecting it in too far, sometimes into the muscle. In the past 11 years it has resulted in nearly 600 pregnancies.
Many women have also reported scarring due to insertion or removal of the implant, as the implant cannot be seen on an x-ray doctors cannot guarantee that it is in the right place. Since then a newer version has been supplied called Nexplanon which has a small chip inside allowing it to be located via an x-ray.
The implant is supposed to be 99.95% effective compared to the pill that has only a 99.7% chance of protection, it costs the NHS £90 for every implant that is inserted.
If you have had the implant then it may be worth opting for the new one that can be detected to see that it has been placd properly, other than that if you are truly worried then have it removed and opt for a different form of contraception, there are around 15 to choose from.