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Contraceptive Implants: 5 Advantages for Long-Term Birth Control

Contraceptive implant | healthdirect
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Birth control offers individuals the ability to make informed choices about if and when to have children. This extends to enhancing health outcomes, reducing the risk of unintended pregnancies, and contributing to socio-economic well-being. Numerous birth control methods are available, each catering to different needs and lifestyles.

The contraceptive implant emerged as a particularly effective long-term birth control solution. It offers a range of benefits, making it a popular choice among individuals who seek reliable and convenient birth control.

Let’s explore the top 5 advantages of a birth control implant for long-term contraception.

What are Contraceptive Implants?

Contraceptive implant | healthdirect

The birth control implant is a flexible plastic rod, about the size of a matchstick. This contraceptive implant is inserted under the skin of your inner upper arm by a healthcare professional. This is a minor procedure done in the clinic.

As it is the size of a matchstick, the birth control implant is discreet yet a convenient birth control method. The birth control implant releases a progestin hormone continuously into your bloodstream. Progestin prevents pregnancy through two primary mechanisms.

Firstly, a contraceptive implant works by thickening the cervical mucus, creating a barrier that blocks sperm from reaching the egg. Secondly, in some users, it also prevent the release of an egg, inhibiting ovulation. This dual-action approach makes birth control implants a highly effective method of long-term birth control. However, it doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

5 Key Advantages of Contraceptive Implants

Birth control implants are highly effective in preventing pregnancy, which provides long-term convenience and reduces period pain and regulation. It is also reversible and flexible, which can benefit certain lifestyles.

1. Highly Effective at Preventing Pregnancy

Birth control implants have an effectiveness rate of over 99% with typical use, making them one of the most reliable methods of birth control available. The mechanism releases a hormone, progestin, that thickens the cervical mucus, which creates a formidable barrier, impeding sperm from reaching the egg. Additionally, the progestin hormone can suppress ovulation in some users, preventing a fertilized egg.

2. Long-Acting Convenience

The contraceptive implant showcases their extended duration of effectiveness. After having the contraceptive implant inserted, these implants provide continuous birth control for an impressive span of three to five years, depending on the specific brand.

This long-acting convenience means that users do not have to worry about taking daily pills or applying barrier methods each time they engage in sexual activity. Instead, they can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that they are consistently protected against an unplanned pregnancy.

3. Reduced Period Pain and Heavy Flow

The presence of the progestin hormone can lead to lighter periods or even cause them to stop completely. This is because the hormone reduces the build-up of the uterine lining, which results in less menstrual flow and period pain. For those who suffer from heavy or painful periods, this can be an immensely beneficial side effect, improving their quality of life.

Women with heavy menstrual bleeding may find that their periods become much lighter and manageable with the use of an implant. It is common for the implant to cause irregular spotting or unexpected bleeding, especially in the first few months or cause stop your periods altogether.

4. Reversible and Flexible

Unlike some long-term contraceptive methods, implants are long-acting reversible contraception. Once the implant is removed, your fertility is likely to return swiftly. This quick return to fertility makes it an excellent choice for individuals who may wish to get pregnant immediately.

5. May Benefit Certain Lifestyles

Active woman

A birth control implant can be an ideal choice for women with active lifestyles or those who find it challenging to remember to take daily contraceptive pills.

For women who are constantly on the go—whether due to work, travel, or sporting activities—the implant offers a set-it-and-forget-it solution, providing continuous protection without the need for daily intervention. This flexibility is particularly beneficial as it eliminates the risk of contraceptive failure associated with missed pills or incorrect use of other birth control methods.

Side Effects and Considerations

While birth control implants are highly effective and convenient, they may cause several side effects in some users.

  1. Irregular Bleeding or Spotting: One of the most common side effects is irregular bleeding or spotting. Some users may experience light or unexpected bleeding between periods.

  2. Changes in Menstrual Periods: The implant can cause changes in menstrual bleeding patterns. This can include lighter periods, irregular bleeding, or even the complete absence of periods.

  3. Breast Tenderness or Enlargement: Some individuals may experience breast tenderness or sore breasts as their bodies adjust to the hormone release from the implant.

  4. Headaches: Hormonal changes induced by the implant can lead to headaches in some users. The frequency and severity varies from person to person.

  5. Mood Swings: Hormonal contraception, including implants, may cause mood changes or swings. Individuals might notice changes in their emotional state.

It is important to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss these potential side effects and to determine if a contraceptive implant is the right choice for your needs and lifestyle.

Contraceptive Implant Procedure

When deciding to get a birth control implant, you are to undergo consultation about the insertion and removal.

Consultation

A healthcare provider will review your medical history, current health status, and birth control options during this consultation. This is an opportunity to ask questions or concerns, and gain an understanding of what to expect from the implant. The healthcare professional will also explain the benefits and potential side effects of the implant to make sure it aligns with your needs and lifestyle.

Insertion

Contraceptive Implant

The insertion process is straightforward and typically takes only a few minutes. This procedure is done in the doctor’s office. First, the healthcare professional will numb the insertion site on your upper arm with a local anaesthetic. Once the area is numb, a small applicator is used to insert the implant just beneath the skin. After the implant is correctly positioned, a small pressure bandage is applied to the site to protect it. It is a minimally invasive procedure, where most individuals can immediately resume their normal activities.

Living with the Implant

Following the insertion, you may experience minor bruising, swelling, or soreness around the insertion site. These symptoms usually subside quickly within a few days. The contraceptive effectiveness of the implant can vary; it is typically recommended to be inserted during the first five days of your menstrual cycle. It is advisable to use an additional form of contraception, such as condoms, for the next seven days.

Removal

When it’s time to have the implant removed—either because it has reached the end of its effective period or for other personal reasons—the implant removal process is straightforward. The healthcare professional will numb the removal site, make a small incision, and gently extract the implant.

After the removal procedure, you may experience slight bruising or tenderness at the site, but these symptoms resolve quickly. Once the implant is removed, your fertility will return to its normal state, and you can choose to have another implant inserted or opt for a different birth control method.

Is a Contraceptive Implant Right for You?

Below are some key considerations when determining if you are a suitable candidate for a contraceptive implant:

  • Age: Your age can influence which birth control methods are most appropriate. A birth control implant is suitable for both younger and older individuals looking for long-term, reversible contraception.

  • Lifestyle: Consider how different methods align with your daily routine and long-term plans. The implant is a low-maintenance option that does not require daily attention, making it ideal for those with busy lifestyles.

  • Medical History: Your health history, including any pre-existing conditions or allergies, should be discussed with your healthcare provider. The implant might be contraindicated in certain medical conditions.

  • Future Fertility Plans: If you plan to have children in the near future, you might prefer a method with easier reversibility. Contraceptive implants offer a quick return to fertility once removed, which is beneficial for those planning pregnancies later.

  • Side Effects: Consider your tolerance for potential side effects associated with hormonal contraception, such as irregular bleeding, weight gain or mood changes.

At Ezra Clinic, we provide comprehensive consultations to help you make an informed choice about your contraception options. Our healthcare provider will inform you through the benefits and considerations of contraceptive implants, ensuring they align with your unique needs and lifestyle.

Getting Started with Contraceptive Implants

The cost of a contraceptive implant can vary depending on your location, healthcare provider, and insurance coverage. Without insurance, the expense for the consultation, insertion, and the device itself can be significant. However, some insurance plans may cover the cost of contraceptive implants, reducing out-of-pocket expenses.

Conclusion

Contraceptive implants provide effective, low-maintenance contraception for up to three years, making them an ideal choice for those with busy lifestyles. Implants are also highly reliable and reversible, allowing for a quick return to fertility upon removal. Additionally, they may reduce menstrual pain and are discreet, as they are inserted under the skin and not visible.

It is important to have a detailed discussion with a healthcare professional to help you weigh the benefits and potential side effects and ensure that this method aligns with your personal health needs and lifestyle choices.

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AUTHOR

Dr Michelle Chia

Medical Director

After graduating from the National University of Singapore, Dr Michelle's journey allowed her to train in Women's Health and Aesthetic Medicine. Her experience has led her to be featured on multiple media platforms including Radio Stations and prominent Magazines like Her World, Women's Weekly and CLEO. Her work has also received recognition both locally and internationally in several Medical Conferences.

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