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The contraceptive implant


The contraceptive implant, also known as a subdermal contraceptive, is a small, thin, flexible plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that is placed in the upper arm under the skin. It works by releasing hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy.

Contraceptive implants are a long-term option for women having effective birth control.

Some of the benefits of implants are as follows:

  • They can be removed at any time and fertility returns quickly.
  • It does not contain oestrogens.

Not all women can use the same contraceptives. The professional will always carry out a study of the woman to find out which contraceptive is the most suitable.

The contraceptive implant does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

The implantation process can take a few minutes, during the procedure the implant will be placed by flexing the elbow, between the biceps and triceps muscles on the inside of the arm. There you will inject an anaesthetic and use an applicator to insert the device under the skin.

After the procedure, the health professional will feel the arm or even perform an ultrasound scan to check that the device was inserted correctly.

You will need to wear a pressure bandage for 24 hours, in order to minimise bruising caused by the placement.

The contraceptive implant can prevent pregnancy for up to three years. It must be removed and replaced after three years to continue to protect against unwanted pregnancy.

Your health care provider may recommend removing the contraceptive implant sooner if they develop:

  • Migraine with aura
  • Heart disease or stroke
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Jaundice
  • Major depression.

To remove the device, the practitioner will inject a local anaesthetic into the arm below the implant, make a small incision in the skin and push the implant until the tip is visible and can be removed, then close the incision and apply a pressure bandage. Removing the device usually takes less than five minutes.

If desired, a new device can be implanted as soon as the old one is removed.