With so many contraceptive choices available (hooray!), it can be tricky working out which type is the best one for you. Never fear! Help is here!
Do you struggle to remember to take the Pill every day? Want contraception that lasts a long time? Maybe it's time to consider a Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) such as Implanon®? Also known as 'fit and forget' methods, LARCs are extremely suitable for most women wanting highly effective contraception that they don't have to think about! Sound good so far? Read on!
What is it?
Implanon® is a small plastic rod containing a progestogen hormone. It is inserted under the skin on the inside of the upper arm by a doctor or nurse, and slowly releases the hormone into the bloodstream. Sometimes Implanon® is called 'the implant' or 'the rod'.
How does it work?
Implanon® works in three ways:
- it stops the body from releasing an ovum (egg) every month (ovulation)
- it makes the mucus in the cervix (the entrance of the uterus) thicker, so sperm cannot get through
- it changes the lining of the uterus (womb).
How effective is it?
When inserted correctly, Implanon® is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy for three years. Nice!
How much does it cost?
The cost of having Implanon® inserted depends on where you have the procedure done, so it's a good idea to talk to a health professional beforehand. At SHQ (Sexual Health Quarters), the cost is around $35 if you have a Medicare card (price subject to change), along with a small admin and insertion fee. When you consider it lasts for three years, that's pretty good value for money!
Are there any side effects?
Contraceptive side effects are different for everyone, and can depend on both the individual and the type of contraception used. With Implanon®, changes to the menstrual cycle can vary, but bleeding is often lighter, or stops altogether. Some women also experience irregular bleeding. If you have any concerns about your bleeding, it's a good idea to discuss them with a health professional.
I'm a bit of a wuss! Will it HURT?
Insertion only takes a couple of minutes. A local anaesthetic (might feel a bit stingy!) is given to numb the skin before inserting the implant using a special applicator, with no stitches required. Bonus! A pressure bandage is then placed on the arm to reduce the chance of bruising. When the anaesthetic wears off, some women may experience tenderness and bruising for a few days afterwards.
Will other people know I've had Implanon® inserted?
Not unless you tell them! A small layer of tissue forms around the implant which keeps it in place. It should be able to be easily felt by a light touch to the skin, but isn't usually noticeable to anyone looking at your arm. The spot where the implant went in (on the inside of the upper arm) leaves a tiny mark/scar, which most people don't even notice.
Sounds good so far! Is there anything it doesn't do?
Implanon® does not protect against sexually transmissible infections (STIs), so you'll still need to use condoms.
What if I find Implanon® doesn't suit me, or I want to take it out?
Implanon® can be easily removed by a doctor or nurse, and fertility returns straight away. It's a good idea to discuss any future contraception needs before having Implanon® removed.
OK, I’m definitely interested…what now?
The implant is ideally inserted between day one (first day of bleeding) to day five of the menstrual cycle. If inserted at this time, Implanon® is effective immediately. It may be inserted at other times, but you'll need to talk to a health professional and use back-up contraception (eg condoms).
For more information on Implanon go to the Implanon page or to shq.org.au. You can also phone the Sexual Health Helpline on 9227 6178/1800 198 205.