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What is the contraceptive implant?

An implant is a small bendy tube about the size of a matchstick. It is placed just under the skin in your upper arm following local anaesthetic. It releases a progestogen hormone for up to three years. The main way the implant works is to stop your ovaries releasing an egg (ovulation), thickening of the cervical mucus to prevent sperm reaching an egg and thinning of the lining of the womb to prevent a fertilised egg implanting.

Only a specially trained doctor or nurse can give you an implant. If your GP does not offer this method of contraception you can come to a Sandyford clinic.

If you are thinking about getting an implant the doctor or nurse will consider your medical history to make sure you can have an implant. Ask the doctor or nurse any questions you have.

How effective is it?

Contraceptive use can either be perfect (always correct) or typical (more accurate, as it’s sometimes difficult to use contraception correctly every time).
With typical use of the combined pill, approximately 5 in 10,000 people become pregnant within the first year of use

What makes it less effective?

Some medications, including some complementary medicines, can make your contraception less effective. Always tell your doctor, nurse, dentist or chemist.

What are the advantages?

  • It’s Reliable contraception.
  • It works for up to 3 years but can be taken out sooner.
  • You can breastfeed if you have an implant.
  • You can use implants if you cannot take oestrogens hormones, like those in the combined pill.
  • The implant does not interfere with having sex in any way.
  • Your normal level of fertility will return as soon as the implant is taken out.
  • It may reduce heavy painful periods.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • A change in your periods. In the first year of getting an implant, some women will have irregular bleeding. This is normal and may settle. Some women may have heavy and prolonged bleeding and a few will not bleed at all. These changes may be irritating but they are not harmful.
  • Other possible side effects can include: headaches, acne, appetite or mood changes, tender breasts or bloating.
  • It requires a small procedure to fit and remove it. Very rarely soon after the implant is put in, it can cause an infection in your arm where it was inserted.
  • An implant does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.

 Only condoms can provide protection against most infections.

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