What is a contraceptive implant?
It is an implant that provides birth control. The only contraceptive implant approved for use in Singapore is the ‘Implanon NXT’.
The implant is a 4cm rod containing the hormone progesterone only (Etonogestrel). Is it “injected” or “implanted” under the skin of the upper inner arm and effective for 3 years. It can be removed and replaced after then.
What are the benefits?
- Implanon NXT has a high effectiveness of over 99% contraception within seven days of insertion.
- It is considered more effective than the oral contraceptive pill as it does not need to be taken daily. This is one of the reasons it has been a popular form of contraception for busy late teens and women.
- It is effective for three years.
- It is reversible and can be removed before the three years.
- There is no delay in returning to fertility after removal.
- It may help painful and heavy periods.
- It does not cause osteoporosis (a decrease in your bone mineral density seen in some other forms of contraception).
- It can be used immediately right after childbirth and in breastfeeding mothers.
- It does not increase the risk of deep venous thrombosis (blood clots in legs or lungs, heart attacks or stroke).
- It can be continued until the age of 55 where women have reached menopause and no longer need to use contraception.
Who should not have it?
Women with a known, suspected or history of liver problems, breast or progesterone sensitive cancer, blood clots, abnormal vaginal bleeding or pregnant women. Special precautions need to be evaluated with your doctor if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, smoke, overweight, kidney issues amongst other conditions.
How is it inserted?
The contraceptive implant needs to be inserted during the first 5 days of a menstrual cycle e.g. during your period. Alternatively, it can be inserted at other time of the menstrual cycle but the doctor would need to exclude pregnancy.
The procedure is quick and easy. The contraceptive implant is inserted under the skin about 5-10 cm above the elbow on the inner side of your upper arm. The trained doctor will numb the skin first with some local anesthetic injection first under sterile condition.
What are the side effects?
A common reported side effect is irregular bleeding during the first few months but this usually fades. Many women report minimal to no menstrual bleeding after a few months, which is considered by many an advantage.
There may be possible weight gain, acne, headaches mood changes, breast pain, nausea but these side effects are not as common.
Like most forms of contraception (apart from condoms), the contraceptive implant does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.