So this post has been sat in our drafts for over 3 years. After seeing Lucy Writes post on the implant (you can read these here) I decided I’d share my experiences as lets face it we’ve all heard of that friend of a friend horror story and when I was making the decision I couldn’t find information on real people talking about experiences.
So here are my pros, cons and experiences with long term contraception, Implanon and Nexplanon are implants and the Depo-Provera Injection. For me I’d been on the pill (microgynon) since I was about 19. I’d had no issues with my periods being unbearable but I was in a long term relationship and didn’t want to entirely rely on condoms. I stayed on microgynon for around 5 Years. I had no issues with it and the way it worked but I’m really bad at remembering to take it so I decided to have a chat with my Dr to see what other options I had. I heard lots about the implant but wanted more information.
The implant works by having a small rod (it’s around 40mm and flexible) inserted under the skin in the arm. The implant then slowly releases the hormone (progestogen)to control the menstrual cycle. This is shown to be over 99% effective. For every 1,000 people with an implant fewer than one will get pregnant in the three years it can be in. Implanon has been replaced with Nexplanon after some pregnancies with users of implanon. It was shown these were due to insertion error rather than failure of the implant. Nexplanon has been designed to reduce the risk of insertion errors and also contains barium so it can be easily located on x-rays and CT scans.
image from NHS.UK
- It provides contraception for up to 3 years.
- You don’t have to remember to take a pill everyday or book in every 12 weeks for injections.
- It can be used up until the menopause.
- It’s safe for breastfeeding.
- It’s good for people who can’t use other options of contraception such as combined contraceptive pill.
- Fertility should return to normal as soon as the implant is removed.
- It can help reduce heavy or painful periods after the first year.
- It can stop periods all together (some people this may be a problem for, some people see it as a pro).
- It can give you irregular periods.
- You have to had a rod in your arm.
- It’s hard to track when you’re hormal
- It has other side effects but these can also commonly be seen on other contraception such as headaches, breast tenderness and mood changes.
The injection works by injecting a dose of progestogen into the body either in the buttock or the arm. It lasts for 12 to 13 weeks depending on the injection you have. It is shown to be more than 99% effective with less than one wmone in 100 who use it becoming pregnant in a year.
- Can last up to 13 weeks depending on injection type.
- Is an option for people who can’t use other contraception such as combined contraceptive pill.
- You don’t have to remember to take the pill everyday.
- It’s safe for breastfeeding.
- It can help reduce heavy or painful periods.
- It can stop periods all together.
- It can take a while for periods and natural fertility to return to normal after stopping the injection.
- It has side effects of other contraception such as weight gain, headaches and changes in mood.
- It effects your natural oestrogen levels which can cause thinning of bones. This isn’t a problem for most women as it returns to normal after use of the injection but is therefore not suitable for people with a history of osteoporosis and under 18s without thought from a Dr. It’s also not recommended as a long term contraception. My Dr told me it was good to stay on for around 2-3 years then assess it.
When I saw the nurse first to discuss it she recommended having two doses of the injection 10 weeks apart to get my body use to progestogen and hopefully stop my periods (this wasn’t a con for me) then have the implant fitted around 10 weeks after the second injection. I followed her advice and did this. After the second injection it was time to have the implant fitted. I was kind of nervous but they apply a local anaesthetic so you really don’t feel any pain. A small incision is made and it’s almost injected into the arm. Some butterfly stitches and a bandage are applied and it’s good to go. The combination of the injection and the implant stopped my periods totally for over 2 years. Just over two years into my implant I started to get periods back. They were extremely light but lasted a good few weeks. My doctor decided to change my implant to see if it would improve it. This part I was concerned about but again the arm is numb so you can feel a thing. For me my implant had slightly embedded into the muscle so it wasn’t as easy as just pulling it out it had to be cut a bit and was trickier to remove but this was all done in my GP surgery and caused me no pain. After it was removed the new one was immediately placed in. I’ve had my new on for around 1 and a half year now and still get regular light periods but it’s not too bad. I’ve decided for the time being I’ll stick with it as I’d rather have light periods and the highest safety against pregnancy than change contraception again.
This was after my implant was removed and replaced!
I’d definitely recommend trying the implant if you’re considering it. The rod doesn’t bother me and I don’t notice it’s there at all. I was concerned about knocking it and stuff from horror stories I’ve heard but I regularly exercise and I do kickboxing and it’s never caused me any problems in these activities. I did have photos from my first implant but I can’t find them and as I said at the beginning of this post that was over 4 years ago now so I have no idea where they’ve disappeared too! The arm does tend to look bruised at first but it does go down pretty quickly!
Hope this helps if you’re deciding about getting a new form of contraception!