Contraceptive Implant

The contraception implant (Im*****n) is a small long active reversible contraceptive device (LARC) that is implanted just under the skin, usually in the upper arm, and lasts 3 years.

It works by releasing a small amount of progestogen continuously preventing ovulation. Progestogen is one of the hormones used in the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) and is similar to the hormone progesterone found in the body naturally.

How effective is it?

The contraceptive implant is one of the most effective forms of contraception, being more than 99.9% effective. This outranks the COCP (91% effective if taken within a 24 hour window daily) and male condoms (82% effective in real world usage).

However some medications can interfere with the effectiveness of the contraceptive implant, and it’s important to let us know all prescribed and non prescribed medications you are taking (including vitamins and supplements).

I’m still not convinced I need it, what are the other advantages?

Well other than being extremely effective at preventing unplanned pregnancies it;

  1. Lasts a long time (3 years)
  2. Is absolutely reversible with removal
  3. Doesn’t require you to remember to take a pill every day
  4. Avoids regular ongoing injections
  5. Is extremely cost effective
  6. Minimises vaginal bleeding for some women
  7. Can reduce painful periods, premenstrual syndrome, and acne for some women

Sounds too good to be true, any disadvantages?

Well like every medication there can be some side effects and changes, and things it just doesn’t do.

It can cause some changes in your pattern of vaginal bleeding, it can;

  • Change bleeding frequency (20% of women have no bleeding at all on it)
  • Cause some irregular light bleeding/spotting
  • Can cause prolonged or frequent light bleeding
  • In a small number of cases it can cause prolonged or frequent heavy bleeding

If you’ve had a contraceptive implant inserted and are unhappy with your bleeding pattern, talk to your doctor as there are a few things that can be trialled in the first 3-6 months before removing the contraceptive implant.

What the contraceptive implant can’t do is protect against STI’s.

It also requires a very minor procedure for insertion and removal.

Who can or can’t have a contraceptive implant?

The contraceptive implant is safe for many women to use for effective contraception, and can even be used whilst breastfeeding.

There are a few situations where you cannot have a contraceptive implant.

  • History of breast cancer
  • Undiagnosed uterine bleeding (once the diagnosis has been established it may be safe to have a contraceptive implant)
  • If you are taking medication which makes the contraceptive implant less effective

Are there any risks of having a contraceptive implant?

  • It is possible to have some bruising at the site of insertion – though we use ice and a compression bandage to minimise this risk
  • A small scar can develop at the insertion site, particularly if you are prone to scarring
  • Allergic reactions are possible to the implant itself, or the local anaesthetic used
  • It is possible to have an infection at the insertion site, again precautions are taken with aseptic technique to minimise this risk
  • Difficulty removing the implant

Are there any other side effects?

It is possible to develop some headaches, mood changes, breast tenderness or have new onset acne.

This isn’t particularly isolated to the contraceptive implant, but applies to most if not all hormonal contraceptives.

Ok I want to get the contraceptive implant, what next?

Firstly you’ll need to book in to see one of our doctors to get to know a little bit more about you, and make sure there’s no reason we can’t insert a contraceptive implant. If everything goes well, we’ll issue a prescription and book you back in for the contraceptive implant insertion.

If you already have a contraceptive implant and it’s time to change it, you’ll need a prescription for a new contraceptive implant and bring this with you to your removal/insertion appointment. If there are any questions you want to clarify, please call one of our friendly reception staff.

Doctors who perform contraceptive implantation:

  • Dr Kathryn Chae
  • Dr Victoria Phan
  • Dr Daniel Chanisheff
  • Dr Shane Christensen

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