Implanon is a relatively new birth control option available to women who are looking for a long term contraceptive in order to avoid getting pregnant. Like Norplant, Implanon is one of several hormonal birth control methods that is implanted into a woman’s body for a period of approximately three years.

Studies have shown Implanon to be an effective form of birth control in over 99% of users annually. However, further studies must be performed in order to confirm these results.

How Does Implanon Work?

Implanon contraception is a hormonal birth control that requires implantation of a small rod under the skin’s surface, which may remain in the body for up to three years, providing continuous protection against pregnancy.

Implanon contraceptive implants are made of soft medical polymer that is approximately 1.5 inches long and 0.08 inches wide. An Implanon rod contains 68mg of etonogestrel, a progestin hormone similar to natural progesterone. These hormones are steadily released into the body daily, beginning with 60-70 micrograms during the first year after implantation, and gradually decreasing to a daily dose of 25 micrograms during the final year.

Like birth control pills, the Implanon contraception method works to prevent pregnancy by increasing these hormone levels in order to stop ovulation. Similar to other hormonal birth control methods, in addition to stopping ovulation, Implanon alters cervical mucus to inhibit sperm from reaching an egg and additionally changing the uterine wall so as to prevent the successful implantation necessary for a fertilised egg.

How Is Implanon Implanted?

Insertion of Implanon is a relatively quick and painless procedure that may be performed in your doctor’s office. Implanon is typically inserted under the skin of the upper arm using a special applicator. The arm is first sterilized and a local anesthetic may be used prior to insertion of the Implanon rod.

Once insertion is complete, the patient will receive a User Card indicating the specific date of implantation, as well as the date during which the implant should be removed. The Implanon rod may be removed at any point prior to this date upon request.

Implanon Risks and Side Effects

Like other types of birth control methods, some risks and side effects are involved in using Implanon. These can include:

  • irregular menstrual bleeding
  • abdominal pain
  • headaches or nausea
  • acne
  • weight gain
  • breast tenderness
  • mood swings or anxiety
  • hair loss or growth
  • vaginitis
  • changes in libido

Implanon does not protect against STDs, and other forms of birth control such as condoms should be used for these purposes.

Implanon Complications

Some of the more serious health complications associated with Implanon birth control include an increased risk of the following:

  • blood clots
  • cardiovascular problems
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • fibrosis as a result of implantation
  • increased blood pressure

Women who smoke or have a medical history related to the above complications are generally not recommended the use of Implanon. Furthermore, women with a history of breast cancer, hormonal allergies, or who believe they may be pregnant should not use this birth control method.

Certain medications and herbal treatments such as St. John’s Wort may interfere with the effectiveness of Implanon. Women who experience unexplained vaginal bleeding should consult a health care professional.

It is important to provide your doctor with information about your medical history and any medications or supplements you may be taking at the time of Implanon insertion. Be sure to let your health care provider know if you are using other birth control methods such as the pill.

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