THE BIRTH CONTROL IMPLANT
A nurse or doctor inserts the implant just under the skin on the inner side of your upper arm. It contains a progestin, which is slowly released into the body. The progestin is designed to lighten or stop the menstrual flow as well as provide contraception. It thins the endometrial lining so thin that implantation will not occur and menses will cease. It is highly effective for at least three years, and can be removed sooner if you want to become pregnant or are unhappy with this method. The pregnancy rate is less than 1 percent in the first year of use.
The implant protects you from pregnancy within seven days of insertion. If the implant is inserted more than five days from the start of your period, backup birth control (such as condoms) should be used for seven days Irregular bleeding is the most bothersome side effect. Your ability to become pregnant returns quickly after the implant is removed.
Some people have side effects after getting Nexplanon, but many adjust to the implant with few or no problems at all. Negative side effects usually go away after a few months, once your body gets used to your implant. It may take up to 90-120 days for your body to adjust.
The most common side effect is irregular bleeding (aka spotting), especially in the first 6-12 months. Sometimes the implant causes long-term spotting, or periods get longer and heavier. But for most people, the implant makes their periods way lighter - 1 in 3 people with the implant stop getting their periods at all after a year.
It's totally safe to not get a period while you're on Nexplanon. And you don't need to worry about being pregnant even if you don't get a period, because the implant is really, really effective birth control. (You can always take a pregnancy test if you want to be sure.)
Other possible side effects that aren't as common include:
- Breast pain
- Weight gain
- Ovarian cysts
- Pain or bruising where the implant was inserted
- An infection where the implant was inserted
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
HOW IS THE IMPLANT INSERTED?
First, your doctor or nurse will ask you some questions about your health to see if the implant Nexplanon is a good method for you. They may also give you a physical exam. The doctor or nurse gives you a shot to numb a small area of your arm. Then, they use a special inserter tool to slide the implant under your skin. Putting the implant in only takes a few minutes.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET AN IMPLANT INSERTED?
Most people just feel a little pinch or stinging when they get the numbing shot. After that, you shouldn't be able to feel the implant being inserted. After the pain medication has worn off, your arm may ache a little where the implant was inserted, but it goes away quickly.
You may have some tenderness or swelling around the implant for a few days and it may look bruised for a week or two. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to wash and take care of the skin around your implant for the first couple of days.
HOW SOON AFTER GETTING THE IMPLANT CAN I HAVE SEX?
You can have sex right away after getting the implant. But if you don't get the implant during the first 5 days of your period, you should use some other type of birth control (like condoms) for the first week after getting your implant. (If you do get the implant during the first 5 days of your period, you're protected from pregnancy right away.)
Nexplanon works for 3 years, and a nurse or doctor must remove it once it expires. You can also get your implant taken out any time before then if you want to get pregnant or stop using it. If you've had your implant for 3 years and you still don't want to get pregnant, you need to replace it (or pick another birth control method). You can get a new implant when you have the old one removed.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET THE IMPLANT REMOVED?
Nexplanon removal only takes a few minutes, but the process is a little longer than getting it put in. Just like with the insertion, a doctor or nurse gives you a shot to numb a small area of your arm. Then they make a small cut and remove the implant. You usually just feel a little pinch or stinging when you get the numbing shot. After that, it shouldn't hurt when they make the incision or take the implant out. If you want to continue using Nexplanon, you can get another implant put in during the removal of your old one.
HOW SOON CAN I GET PREGNANT AFTER GETTING THE IMPLANT REMOVED?
It's possible to get pregnant right away. It may take a few months for a regular cycle to return.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER I GET MY IMPLANT REMOVED?
Overall, you should feel completely normal after getting your implant taken out. Your arm may feel tender or swollen around where the implant was for a few days. It may look bruised for a week or two. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to wash and take care of your skin for a couple of days after removal. Unless you start another hormonal birth control method after removing the implant, your period will go back to how it was before you got Nexplanon.