How It Works?
It is a small flexible plastic rod inserted just under the skin of the inner part of the upper arm. After insertion it can be felt under the skin. It slowly releases the hormone progesterone into the body to stop ovulation. It also thickens the mucus at the neck of the womb making it difficult for sperm to enter. The implant is more than 99% effective in protecting against pregnancy.
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 to give them to you.
The implant is designed to be used for 3 years. It you are not sure you want contraceptive protection for this long, other methods of contraception may be more suitable for you. There is only one implant available in Ireland at this time it is called Implanon.
How do you use the implant?
An implant is about the size of a matchstick. 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. If your periods come every 23 days or less, you may not be protected so you 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.
What makes the implant less effective?
Some prescribed medicines used to treat epilepsy, HIV and TB, also enzyme-inducing drugs and the complementary medicine St John’s Wort may make an implant less effective so always inform your doctor that you are using an implant.
Who can use the implant?
The implant is suitable for most women. A doctor or nurse may need to know about a woman’s medical history and any illnesses suffered by immediate members of her family to check suitability.