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Contraceptive implant

Remember: Implants do NOT protect against sexually transmitted infections

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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Remember: Implants do NOT protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Implants are small tubes fitted under your upper arm skin that release the hormone progestogen into your blood.

Implants work by preventing the release of an egg (ovulation) and by increasing cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from meeting the egg (on the rare chance that an egg is released). They also thin the lining of your womb. They are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

A doctor fits an implant during your period. The process takes about 10 minutes and is done under local anaesthetic (It will numb the pain, but you won’t be asleep or anything).

Advantages of implants

  • You can breastfeed with an implant.
  • They can be removed at any time.
  • They are one of the most effective contraceptives around, with an effectiveness rating of 99%.
  • They do not appear to be associated with cancer.

Disadvantages of implants

  • Implants don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections.
  • They often cause irregular or even totally absent periods during the first year. Some women also have continuous bleeding while on the implant.
  • There can be side effects such as acne (spots), dizziness, abdominal pain, weight gain, headaches, mood changes and tender breasts.
  • The implant may cause mild insulin resistance. This is a condition where the body does not respond normally to the hormone insulin – this hormone controls blood sugar levels.
  • You can feel the implants under your skin and sometimes see them.
  • Certain medications can interfere with the effectiveness of the implant, always check with your pharmacist before taking any new medication.

How to use implants

  • Implants should always be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse, and usually during the first five days of your period.
  • The doctor or nurse will numb your arm with some local anaesthetic (it will numb the pain, but you won’t be asleep or anything).
  • They will then place the tube under the skin of your arm, using a special needle.
  • It should only take a few minutes.
  • You may get some temporary bruising or swelling in your arm afterwards, though most women do not.
  • Implants may not be as effective or suitable for women who are obese (with a BMI over 35).

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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Published February 11th, 2013
Last updated October 29th, 2015
Tags contraception sexual health sex
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