The implant (Nexplanon is the brand name) 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—which means it can be your little secret, if you’re so inclined. The implant releases hormones that keep your ovaries from releasing eggs and thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Plus, it prevents pregnancy for three years. Not too shabby. View all methods >
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 3 years.
No packages or prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy, so there’s nothing that could get lost or forgotten.
No one can tell when you have the implant. There’s no tell-tale packaging, and nothing you need to do right before you have sex.
The pregnancy question
You should return to fertility (fancy way of saying you should go back to being able to 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.
This method may be free or low-cost for you.
The discreet, little implant can stay in place for up to three years. Over that amount of time it becomes pretty economical, averaging about $13 a month.
- With Medicaid: Free or small co-pay
- With insurance: $0. Great news. Preventive health services like birth control are covered for no additional charge now.
- Without insurance: About $479 to have an implant inserted at Title X/low-cost (about $162 to have it removed; $600-800 to insert at other providers.
- Payment assistance: Monthly payments of about $100 for six months (total cost $595). Contact CuraScript specialty pharmacy at 1-866-844-0148, or the manufacturer at www.implanon-usa.com or 1-800-222-7579. Also, check with your local family planning health centers and find out if they offer free or low-cost implants (many do).
To see how this translates over a year, here’s what it would cost to pay for the implant month-to-month at full price:
- Cost per month over one year: $40 at Title X/low-cost health centers or $66 at other providers
- Cost per month over three years: $13 at Title X/low-cost health centers or $22 at other providers
* FYI: This info is based on a recent survey of Title X clinics in Colorado and birth control manufacturers. Your cost may vary. Some health centers accept private insurance; some don’t. If you don’t have private insurance, be sure to ask your doctor or health center about Title X (a federal family planning program), Medicaid, or other programs that could reduce the cost of your birth control.
How to Use It
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.
Here’s how the whole thing goes: 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 five days of your period, lucky you: You’re set with pregnancy protection from that very moment. If you’re outside of those first five days, you’ll need to use a back up method for the following week. Ex: Male condoms, female condoms, 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.
There are positive and negative things to say
about each and every method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.
Positive “side effects”? You bet. There are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.
- Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
- Most women have fewer, lighter periods
- You don’t have to worry about remembering to take it every day
- Your birth control is taken care of for up to 3 years
- Can be used while breastfeeding
- Can be used by women who can’t take estrogen
- May improve PMS, depression and symptoms from endometriosis
Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they’re not a problem. And if you do experience side effects, they’ll probably go away. Remember, you’re introducing hormones into your body, so it can take a few months to adjust. Give it time.
The most common complaint:
- Irregular bleeding, especially for the first 6-12 months. This could mean spotting in between periods or having longer, heavier periods. Some women have irregular bleeding the whole time the implant is in. On the other hand, some women get no periods at all, at least for a while. A little unpredictable, but most women seem to do okay. Bottom line: You need to be okay with irregular periods if you are thinking about Implanon.
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.
We’re here to get this method working better for you.
And if it still doesn’t feel right, we’ve got ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you’re protected while you switch.
- I don’t like the spotting.
This is a side effect that may be hard to fix, but if you’ve only had the implant for a few months or less, it could also lessen or go away on its own.
- I’m ready to get pregnant.
Easy enough. Make an appointment to get it removed. Once it’s removed, the hormones in your body should go back to normal pretty quickly.
- I feel moody, bloated, or nervous.
If the implant is new to you (that means 6 months or less) and the side effects are bearable, give it a little more time—hormone levels will start to level off, so those hormonal side effects tend to go away.
Still not working?
If you’ve given it at least six months and the side effects are still bothering you, consider trying a shorter-acting, lower-dose method, such as the pill, the patch, or the ring. You could also try either IUD.
- I am uncomfortable with the thought of having something in my body for a long time.
All the birth control devices have been rigorously tested and are FDA-approved for long-term use. And because it’s designed to be there for a long time, you can pretty much just forget about the implant for up to 3 years.
Still not working?
If you’re still bothered by the thought of having a device inside of you, there are plenty of other options.
- I get worried that I’m pregnant because I don’t bleed regularly.