The Implant

The birth control implant is a thin, flexible plastic implant about the size of a cardboard matchstick. It is inserted under the skin of the upper arm and protects against pregnancy for up to three years. Brand names available are Implanon and Nexplanon.

The birth control implant releases a hormone called progestin.  Hormones are chemicals made in our bodies which control how different parts of our bodies work. The progestin in the birth control implant works in a few ways. It keeps eggs from leaving the ovaries. Pregnancy can not happen if there is no egg to join with sperm. The implant also makes a woman's cervical mucus thicker and keeps sperm from getting to the eggs.

Straight to the Facts: Implant

  • Less than 1% failure rate

  • Inserted by a doctor

  • Works by preventing ovulation and making it hard for sperm to reach your eggs

  • Effective for 3 years

  • Most women have few side effects

  • Can help with heavy or painful periods and PMS

  • Smoking while using an implant can increase the risk of stroke

How effective is it?


The birth control implant is very effective. Less than 1% of women using the implant will become pregnant each year and it lasts up to three years. While using the implant, certain medicines and supplements may make it less effective. These include:

  •  Rifampin - antibiotic (other antibiotics do not make the implant less effective)

  •  Griseofulvin - antifungal (other antifungals do not make the implant less effective.)

  •  Certain HIV medications

  •  Certain anti-seizure medications

  •  St. John's Wort

Ask your health care provider for advice and use a backup method of birth control like condoms until your doctor says otherwise.

The Implant will not protect you from STIs. To prevent STIs, use a barrier method like a condom every time you have sex.

What about side effects?


There can be some side effects of the implant; however, for most women, the side effects should get better or go away within a few months. If they do not get better or get worse, talk to your doctor. You may need a different form of birth control. Side effects can include headaches, nausea, breast pain, weight gain, ovarian cysts, pain or bruising where the implant was placed, and infections at the implant site. You may also notice that you do not get periods while you have an implant. This is OK and there is nothing to worry about.

Curious about what an insertion looks like? Check out this video!

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