The implant (Implanon is the brand name) is a teeny-tiny rod that's inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It's so small, in fact, most people can't see it once it's inserted. The implant releases hormones that keep your ovaries from releasing eggs and thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Plus, it prevents pregnancy for three years.
Get it and forget it
If you're a busy person who doesn't want to worry about remembering birth control, the implant just may be for you. Once it's in, it lasts for up to three years.
No packages or prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy, so there's nothing that could get lost or forgotten.
No one can tell when you have the implant.
The pregnancy question
You should return to fertility (fancy way of saying you should go back to being able to get pregnant) any time after the implant is removed. So don't take any chances. If you get it taken out, but you're not ready for a baby, protect yourself with another method right away.
There are positive and negative things to say about each and every method. And everyone's different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.
Positive “side effects”? You bet.
- You don’t have to stop and do anything before sex.
- Most women have fewer, lighter periods
- You don't have to worry about remembering to take it every day
- Your birth control is taken care of for up to three years
- Can be used while breastfeeding
- Can be used by women who can't take estrogen
- May improve PMS, depression and symptoms from endometriosis
Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they're not a problem. And if you do experience side effects, they'll probably go away. Remember, you're introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.
The most common complaint:
- Irregular bleeding, especially for the first six to 12 months (This could mean spotting in between periods or having longer, heavier periods. Some women have irregular bleeding the whole time the implant is in. On the other hand, some women get no periods at all, at least for a while. A little unpredictable, but most women seem to do okay. Bottom line: you need to be okay with irregular periods if you are thinking about the implant.)
Less common side effects:
- Change in appetite
- Ovarian cysts
- Discoloring or scarring on the skin over the implant
- Hair loss
- Pain where the implant was inserted
- Sore breasts
If you find the side effects unbearable after six months, talk with your doctor about switching to something that works for you. Just make sure to stay protected by starting a new method immediately. You're worth it.
*For a very small number of women, there are risks of serious side effects.