Contraceptive implant

The contraceptive implant is a small, flexible rod which is put under the skin in your upper arm. Once it is put in, it protects against pregnancy for three years, until you have it taken out.implant_crop

A single contraceptive implant, about 40mm long, is put into the upper arm. It releases the hormone progestogen which is also found in both the Combined Pill and the Progestogen-only Pill.

Spend a bit of time looking here and finding out more about the implant and if you have any questions, you can get in touch with Ask Brook. Ask Brook is confidential. That means we won't tell anyone you contacted us unless we think you're in really serious danger.

The contraceptive implant is one of the types of contraception called a LARC. LARC stands for 'Long Acting Reversible Contraception'. LARC methods don't rely on you remembering to take them, but they do need a professional (like a doctor or a nurse) to give them to you. They are very effective.

How does the implant work?
How do you use the implant?
What's good about the implant?
What do I need to watch out for with the implant?
What makes the implant less effective?
Who can use the implant? 

How does the implant work?

The implant contains the hormone progestogen which it releases slowly. It stops ovulation (the release of an egg) and thickens the mucus around the cervix, which makes it difficult for sperm to get into the womb. 

How do you use the implant?

An implant is about the size of a match stick. It is placed under the skin, in your upper arm. A doctor or nurse will give you a local anaesthetic injection, to numb this part of your arm. They make a tiny cut in your skin and put the implant in. It should only take a few minutes, and you won't need any stitches. The area may be tender for a few days, but the doctor or nurse will put a small dressing on, to protect it and help stop any bruising.

If the implant is put in during the first five days of your period, it protects you against pregnancy straight away. If it's put in on any other day of your menstrual cycle you will not be protected against pregnancy for the first seven days, so you'll need to use another method of contraception, (like condoms) for the first seven days. If your periods come every 23 days or less, you may not be protected so should seek further advice or use a condom for the first seven days. 

What is good about the implant?

  • Does not interrupt sex.
  • Works for up to three years.
  • No evidence that it causes additional weight gain.
  • Fertility returns to normal immediately implant is removed. 

What do I have to watch out for with the implant?

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • May cause or worsen acne.
  • Periods may be irregular or stop altogether. 

How effective is the implant?

The implant is more than 99% effective. This means that less than 1 in 100 women who use implants will get pregnant each year. 

What makes the implant less effective?

Some prescribed medicines used to treat epilepsy, HIV and TB, enzyme inducing drugs and the complementary medicine St John's Wort. 

Who can use the implant?

The implant is suitable for most women. A doctor or nurse will need to know about a woman's medical history and any illnesses suffered by immediate members of her family. That's to find out if there are any medical reasons why it might not be suitable for you.

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