How Does The Contraceptive Implant Work?
The contraceptive implant: common side effects.

Get the lowdown on the most common contraceptive implant, Nexplanon, and potential side effects.

There are so many types of contraceptives it can be hard to know which one is best for you. Experiences differ from person to person and it’s always good to read real user experiences.

In this post, we’re looking at the contraceptive implant and sharing our data on the most common side effects as experienced by over 3000 real people.

What is the birth control implant?
The contraceptive implant (Nexplanon implant) is a small soft flexible rod made out of ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer (plastic) that goes under your skin. It releases a hormone called progestogen that works to prevent pregnancy. It lasts for three years before it should be replaced.

How does the contraceptive implant work?
Once placed under the skin of your upper arm by a doctor or nurse, it releases the hormone progestogen gradually into your bloodstream which works to prevent pregnancy in three ways: by stopping ovulation, making the fluid in your cervix thicker (making it more difficult from sperm to enter the womb), and preventing the lining of your womb thickening enough for an embryo to grow in it.

How effective is the contraceptive implant?
It is 99% effective, meaning that the chances of getting pregnant on the implant are fewer than 1 out of 100 women over the course of a year.

What are the most common contraceptive implant side effects?
Spots or acne
Tender breasts
Vaginal discharge
Mood changes
Changes in sex drive
However these symptoms often settle after a few months.

Changes in your periods are common. These can include spotting or irregular bleeding, prolonged bleeding or your periods may stop altogether. Around 20% of women can expect to have no periods and 30% of women less than 1 period a month.

Because of how it works the implant may actually help to reduce period pain, pain related to ovulation and heavy periods.

Women have also reported other possible side effects but the lack of research into this area means we don’t have scientific evidence that links these to the implant. For example there is no scientific evidence that the implant causes weight gain. Research does admit that women can put on weight while using the implant but this is thought to be due to natural weight gain as part of ageing that would happen normally without contraception.

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Removal of the contraceptive implant To remove the contraceptive implant you will need to go back to your heathcare provider – DO NOT attempt to take it out yourself.  The procedure is normally fairly simple and should only take a few minutes. As soon as it’s removed you won’t be protected from pregnancy. You will have a local anaesthetic injection, then the doctor or nurse will make a tiny cut in your skin and gently pull the implant out. They will put a dressing on the arm to keep it clean and dry and reduce any bruising.

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