The most effective method, the implant, is a teeny-tiny rod that’s inserted under the skin of your upper arm that releases hormones into your body for up to 3 years. Teens love it!
The implant—aka, Nexplanon—is a teeny-tiny rod that’s inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It’s so small, in fact, most people can’t see it once it’s inserted. The implant releases hormones that keep your ovaries from releasing eggs and thicken your cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Plus, it prevents pregnancy for three years. Not too shabby! It’s the #1 most effective birth control method—more than 99%. It’s also pretty popular with teens.
Get it and forget it.
If you’re a busy person who doesn’t want to worry about remembering birth control, the implant just may be for you. Once it’s in, it lasts for up to three years.
No packages or prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy, so there’s nothing that can get lost or forgotten.
You can feel it…but it won’t bother you.
You’ll be able to feel the little rod, and even wiggle it around a little bit, when you touch your upper arm. Some people think that’s pretty cool. Some think it’s weird. But don’t worry—it doesn’t hurt.
No one can tell when you have the implant. There’s no telltale packaging and nothing you need to do right before having sex.
Teens love it.
About 80% of teens who get the implant like it and keep using it, compared with about 55% of teenage pill users.
The pregnancy question.
You can get pregnant any time after the implant is removed. So don’t take any chances. If you get it taken out, but you’re not ready for a baby, protect yourself with another method right away.
Once the implant is inserted, it’s as easy to use as, well, doing nothing. That’s right. The implant just sits there, under your skin, offering protection against pregnancy for up to three years.
You go to the doctor, they gather all your medical info and give you a physical exam, then they numb a small area of your upper arm with a painkiller and insert the implant under your skin. And you’re done.
If you get the implant during the first 5 days of your period, lucky you: You’re set with pregnancy protection from that very moment. If you’re outside of those first 5 days, you’ll need to use a backup method for the following week (e.g., condom, female condom, diaphragm, sponge or emergency contraception).
When it’s time to take the implant out, your doctor will numb your arm again, make a tiny cut in your skin, and remove the implant. If you’re interested in continuing to use the implant, they can put another one in at the same time.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, if you have health insurance, chances are good you’ll be able to use this method with no out-of-pocket cost. Tricare, the military insurance, covers this method at Tricare-authorized providers. Medicaid also covers it.
Implants are available at health centers and some doctors’ offices for free or at a very low cost.
You might still need condoms.
Because the implant is such an awesome pregnancy protector, some people drop condoms too soon. Remember—the implant doesn’t prevent STIs. Only stop using condoms after you and your partner have been tested and have talked about your STI statuses.
There are positive and negative things to say about each and every birth-control method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friends experience.
- Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
- Most women have fewer, lighter periods
- You don’t have to remember to take it every day
- Lasts for up to 3 years
- Safe for smokers and people with hypertension and diabetes
- Can be used while breastfeeding
- Can be used by women who can’t take estrogen
- May improve PMS, depression and symptoms from endometriosis
The most common complaint is irregular bleeding, especially for the first 6–12 months. This could mean spotting in between periods or having longer, heavier periods. Some teens have irregular bleeding the whole time the implant is in. On the other hand, some teens get no periods at all, at least for a while. That’s a little unpredictable, but most people seem to do okay.
Bottom line: You need to be okay with irregular periods if you are thinking about the implant.
Less Common Side Effects:
- Change in appetite
- Change in sex drive
- Ovarian cysts
- Discoloring or scarring on the skin over the implant
- Hair loss
- Pain where the implant was inserted
- Sore breasts
If you find the side effects unbearable after six months, talk with your doctor about switching to something that works for you. Just make sure to stay protected by starting a new method immediately. You’re worth it.
*For a very small number of women, there are risks of serious side effects.
Expert dirt: “The #1 most effective method!”