Oftentimes, when we think of birth control, we automatically perk up at the oral or barrier methods of such. We’re talking pills, condoms, and other items that are tangible to see, touch, and eventually use before doing the deed to stay protected. However, we haven’t discussed much about the ones you can insert inside your body for maximum safety. For example, the birth control implant.
This method of birth control is a major help for those who want something low-maintenance, wherein they won’t go frantic if they forget about it. It’s also beneficial with its high effectiveness rate and ability to last for a few years before it needs to be replaced.
Let’s stay educated with more interesting information on how a birth control implant works through this article, alongside its advantages and disadvantages when you choose to get one. We’ll also give you a brief yet clear insight into how the procedure of getting one works and other factors to consider before going under the knife.
What is a Birth Control Implant?
Healthline defines this implant as:
“a type of hormonal birth control method that releases progestin into one’s body in order to prevent pregnancy. In the US, it’s purchased under the name Nexplanon.”
Cleveland Clinic added that this implant resembles a matchstick, wherein it’s a small, thin rod-like device inserted within the skin of your upper arm where progestin flows through your bloodstream until removal.
Almost anyone at any age can get a birth control implant. However, there are certain conditions wherein it’ll be better to resort to another method of birth control. We’ll discuss more about it later on, but other than that, there’s no age limit to getting a birth control implant.
How Does It Work?
WebMD instructs that once the implant is inserted, stable doses of a progestin hormone called etonogestrel are released to tell the pituitary gland in your brain to then signal your ovaries not to release any eggs. This also thickens your uterine lining, further preventing any sperm from reaching any eggs in your uterus.
According to NHS, inserting the implant within the first 5 days of your period protects you from pregnancy. If any other outside this time, you’ll need to use extra protection (condoms) when you’re about to do the deed for 7 days.
After getting a birth control implant, it can feel uncomfortable at first. In the start, along with the anesthetic, it may feel like a pinch. You can expect soreness and tenderness within the first few days, but it should fade away over time.
How Is a Birth Control Implant Inserted?
Only a healthcare provider can insert and remove the implant from your body. At all costs, don’t attempt to take it off. They may do a physical exam on you beforehand before they ask you to lie down on an exam table in their clinic.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how this procedure works based on Cleveland Clinic:
- Once laid down on an exam table, your arm should be bent in an “L” shape.
- The healthcare provider shall numb the flesh of your inner upper arm with local anesthetic so you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the insertion.
- The arm used is usually your non-dominant one, though the healthcare provider may ask for your preference.
- With a unique needle, they’ll insert the implant in your arm within a few minutes.
- There’s no need to be stitched, although a bandage will be applied to aid in possible bruising.
Pros of Getting a Birth Control Implant
Listing down the pros and cons of any type of birth control is crucial as it’ll impact how your body functions and such. Before making an important decision, it also helps to ask your doctor for their insights as each patient may have different needs and focuses. With that being said, browse through the key pros of pushing through with a birth control implant in the long-run.
1 It has a high effectiveness rate.
This method of birth control has a 99% effectiveness rate. This corresponds that each year less than one woman in 100 will get pregnant when they have an implant. Once you get a birth control implant into your system, it’s already doing its job. In fact, this method is one of the most effective birth control methods alongside intrauterine devices (IUDs) and birth control injections.
2 It’s convenient to use.
It’s giving the get-and-forget mindset! That means that there are no extra means to take after to avoid pregnancy and you don’t have to worry extra if you miss a pill. You also don’t have to feel concerned if you need to remove anything because a birth control implant is a one-time thing. There’s no need for daily or monthly changing whatsoever, making it a hassle-free experience. Plus, it’s located in your arm so thoughts of forgetting anything and such won’t or shouldn’t cross your mind.
3 It’s reversible.
The birth control implant is also known as long-acting reversible contraception or LARC. This means you can remove it at any time and instantly get started if you plan to get pregnant. Whatever you do, your fertility will return when you’re off the implant, as the method won’t affect such a state.
4 It’s estrogen-free.
It’s common for vulva owners or women to avoid any means of birth control that involve estrogen due to health problems. However, estrogen is a known hormone in many hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill and the patch.
But don’t give up just yet. Luckily, a birth control implant is an ideal option as it only releases progestin. Thus, it becomes more accessible to anyone.
5 It’ll last a while in your body.
A birth control implant can last for 3-5 years until they need to be replaced. Within that time frame, it remains as effective as ever in preventing any unexpected pregnancy.
6 You have an improved relationship with your menstrual cycle.
One magnificent thing that a birth control implant can do for you is to cut down your discomfort from period cramps. Alongside this, your period feels lighter over time. In fact, it can also stop such (amenorrhea), which is usually seen as a benefit for most women/vulva owners.
7 It’s a private method of birth control.
Only you get to know what’s in your body, and only you get to decide what suits your body and what lifestyle works for you. Your body is yours, so don’t let anyone else dictate you. If you believe that the birth control implant is best for you, alongside medical input, then, by all means, push through with it.
Alongside this, it’s only private if no one knows about it. Since it’s hidden deep into your skin, nobody has a clue about it unless you tell them.
8 It won’t meddle with your sexual desires.
You know how before you and your partner get hot and steamy in the bedroom, but you need to pause mid-way to put extra protection or whatnot? Well, that’s not the case if you get a birth control implant. If you and your partner are clean and want to do the deed immediately, you can do so without consequences, thanks to the implant. Emphasize clean; it better get checked if you want to do it raw!
Alongside this, having a birth control implant won’t interfere with your sexual needs or your genitalia. As long as you’re clean and healthy, you can push through with your sexual urges solo or with your partner.
Cons of Getting a Birth Control Implant
It’s time to balance things out as every birth control method has its disadvantages in line with its advantages. Keep reading this section to learn more about what to look out for when you decide that a birth control implant is your top choice.
1 It’s pricey.
In the Phillippines, the birth control implant here is called a Progestin Sub-dermal implant (PSI) as implemented by the Department of Health (DOH). According to Philhealth, it can cost up to Php 3,000 if you purchase their Subdermal Contraceptive Implant Package.
2 There are side effects.
Every method of birth control will always come with side effects upon the first days or early usage period. But how we react to it can vary, wherein it can be easy or challenging to adjust. We’ll get more into the side effects in the next section, but other than that, most people would want an easy-going, symptomless experience with birth control. Thus, getting side effects is a total downer.
3 You may get acne.
This may vary on one’s genetics or hormone levels. As progestin is a synthetic type of progesterone, they share similar side effects. Think of it, when our sex hormone levels change, hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, it can impact sebum production and our reaction to it in our body. A situation wherein those hormones rise and fall would be during our period. Still, because of the presence of progestin in the birth control implant, it’s possible to get acne.
To add, Sarah Bradley and Julia Hong from Health state that “increased levels of androgens (a group of hormones including testosterone) can lead to sebum buildup in the skin. More sebum can reduce the amount of natural protective oils in your skin, making it prone to acne-related bacteria (P. acnes).”
4 You may be at risk of getting blood clots.
Mayo Clinic informs that although estrogen has a closer connection to blood clots, etonogestrel comes with a label saying that it should not be used with those with a history of blood clots. However, it’s unclear if progestin alone can put you at risk. Regardless, a possible risk is a risk. Blood clots cause serious health problems, whether it be up your legs [deep vein thrombosis (DVT)], lungs [pulmonary embolism (PE)], or even your brain.
As much as possible, check with your doctor if you’re at risk of blood clots. Whether they check on your history or current state, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5 It doesn’t protect you from STIs.
Although the birth control implant prevents unexpected pregnancy, you’re still prone to STIs if you don’t wrap it. As much as possible, do the deed with any barrier method of birth control to prevent getting one. The main example of such are condoms, male and female.
Side Effects of a Birth Control Implant
As mentioned earlier, every method of birth control comes along with side effects as it adjusts into your system. For the birth control implant, here are some signs to look out for cautiously:
- Ovarian cysts
- Breast Pain
- Mood swings
- Bruising or swelling
- Weight Gain
Things You May Consider Before Getting a Birth Control Implant
As you’re now aware of the pros, cons, and side effects of this implant, there are a few more important factors worth considering before pushing through with the procedure. In this section, we’ll be listing each of them down and why you must think them through.
1 Medical History
You’re going to have to deep dive into your health for this one. If any of these scenarios apply to you, you may need to take a step back on getting a birth control implant. According to NHS, those signs include:
- Think you’re pregnant or are pregnant
- Take medications that may possibly meddle with the implant
- Don’t want your periods to change
- Have a history of blood clots, cancer, liver disease, or unexplained vaginal bleeding
If none of these signs apply to you, you should be good to go as you visit your doctor. For further reassurance, undergo a physical exam with them.
2 Thoughts on Menstruation
If you’re more than okay with eventually losing your period, this method of birth control has your back. If you’re also looking into a solution that’ll lessen your cramps or lighten your cycle instantly as the opposite outcomes can disrupt your lifestyle, a birth control implant is low maintenance and reduces your discomfort over time.
However, if you’re antsy with the idea of losing your period but want to decrease the menstrual pain, you can discuss with your doctor about other birth control options that’ll cater to your needs.
3 Stand on Pregnancy
If you want to remain childless while wanting not to take a pill everyday, the birth control implant is suitable for you. Or if you want to have kids in the far future, using a birth control implant works too if you’re living a “get and forget” mindset. Your view on childbearing and your possible future plans surrounding it (if you want a baby) play a role in whether getting a birth control implant is the best birth option for you.
Are you sexually active? What’s your pain tolerance? Are you diligent to remember important daily tasks? Do you aim to live a hassle-free life? Asking these lifestyle-related questions to yourself, alongside absorbing the facts we stated above about this method, can help you decide whether or not having a birth control implant works best for your lifestyle.
Things to Prepare Before Your Appointment
Whenever you consult with a doctor for a check-up or a procedure, it’s important to come prepared and healthy. That way, you can maximize your time with them and further reap their benefits. Healthline has a list of tips to prepare you for your appointment to get a birth control implant so everything goes smoothly and successfully.
- Eat a well-balanced meal beforehand.
- Bring medications you’re currently taking as it’s crucial to discuss.
- Avoid doing the deed if you’re not on any type of birth control.
- But if you are, keep using it until your appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
As we’re nearing the end of this guide, you’re probably still curious to know a little more about this birth control method. No worries, we’ll be answering some common queries about the birth control implant in this section.
1 Can a birth implant get lost or broken inside my arm?
No. In fact, both situations rarely occur with a birth control implant. For the first situation, unless you get into a severe accident with your arm, you may need to get it checked. As for the latter, your body will respond to the insertion of the implant like an injury, where tissues around it thicken to heal it.
2 Who are not eligible to get a birth control implant?
One sign not to get a birth control implant is if you are or think you’re pregnant. WebMD adds more crucial signs to this claim such as having a history of breast cancer and blood clots, any condition involving the liver, unexplained vaginal bleeding, and having sensitivity to any part of the implant.
3 How is a birth control implant removed?
After 3-5 years, you must have your birth control implant removed by a medical professional in order to either get a new one or stop the process. Removal requires making a small incision around the area where the implant is inserted, numbed by anesthetic then pulled out with tweezers or forceps. Like in the insertion process, there are no stitches to be made and a bandage shall be enough to cover the incision. At all costs, you should never attempt to remove your birth control implant.
4 Can you get a birth control implant inside you after giving birth?
Yes. You can get around 6 weeks post-partum, and it’s also safer to get when you’re breastfeeding.
5 When should I consult with my doctor?
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, sudden yet intense headaches, chest or leg pain, yellowing of your skin, or having strong menstrual bleeding, rush to the nearest ER for urgent assistance. Check here for more signs to look out for that requires medical attention.
And that sums up this guide on the Birth Control Implant! From its high effectiveness rate and being reversible, this method can keep you away from unexpected pregnancy as it releases progestin all throughout your body. It’s appealing to many people because it is low-maintenance and lasts up to 3-5 years, not having to worry if you “missed” anything. Although it comes with risks and side effects, it’s something worth discussing with a medical professional. Other than that, we wish you good luck on whether or not this method of birth control is ideal for you in the long run.