The implant is a match-sized bendy stick which is placed just under the skin in your upper arm. It releases the hormone progestogen into your blood stream, preventing pregnancy.
It is a long-term method of contraception which works for up to three years.
How does it work?
- it stops eggs from being released (ovulation)
- it thickens cervical mucous to prevent sperm from being able to reach an egg
- it thins the lining of the womb so that if an egg was fertilised it would not be able to implant
How effective is it?
The contraceptive implant is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Advantages of using the contraceptive implant:
- you don’t have to remember to take anything
- it does not interrupt sex
- you'll have lighter or no periods, with reduced period pain and less premenstrual symptoms
- research suggests that it provides some protection against womb cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease
The implant is also generally safe to use in people who are overweight, who smoke and who have a family history of heart disease.
Disadvantages of the hormonal implant:
- it can disrupt your periods, cause irregular bleeding, or cause you periods to be heavier and longer
- you might experience headaches, mood changes, weight gain, spotty skin and breast tenderness
- some women will experience discomfort on insertion and removal of the implant, however local anaesthetic is usually used
Things to bear in mind:
The implant is a long-term method of contraception but is also suitable for someone who may be considering getting pregnant in the near future, as there is an immediate return to fertility upon removal.
It has to be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse, so it may not be available at all GP surgeries or clinics.
It is possible that an infection may happen at the site of insertion, but this is rare.
Most importantly, the implant does not provide any protection against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections like a condom does.
Where can I get it from and how much does it cost?
The implant is available free on the NHS. You can only get it on prescription. This can be from your GP, a practice nurse, a sexual health clinic or a young person's clinic.