Women nowadays have more options than ever when it comes to birth control. One such method available in the United States for the past decade is the birth control implant. This tiny device, no bigger than a matchstick, is implanted in the arm and provides birth control for three years. Here is what you need to know to determine if this birth control method is right for you.
How Does an Implant in the Arm Prevent an Unwanted Pregnancy?
Similar to the birth control pill and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUD), the birth control implant, marketed under the names Implanon and Nexplanon, uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. Unlike the birth control pill, the implants do not use estrogen, relying on progesterone instead.
Estrogen use has been linked to an increase in strokes, blood clots, and exacerbating liver disease, so the birth control implant is a good option for women who have these issues or have a family history that might predispose them to these problems.
Progesterone affects the body by thickening a woman's cervical mucous, making it difficult for sperm to swim to an egg. It also works by keeping the ovaries from releasing an egg each month to begin with.
What Are the Advantages of Birth Control Implants?
- With a birth control implant, you don't need to stop and remember to take a pill each day or suddenly panic, worried you forgot to.
- If you are in a monogamous relationship and sexually transmitted diseases aren't a concern, you won't need to stop prior to intercourse to prepare another method of contraception, such as a spermicide or condom.
- Post-partum mothers can safely breastfeed while using birth control implants.
- Birth control implants provide an estrogen-free contraception method.
- Contraceptive benefits last up to three worry-free years, and when you're ready to conceive again, your fertility won't be adversely affected.
- Birth control implants have an effective rate over 99.5 percent.
What Are the Disadvantages of Birth Control Implants?
There are very few disadvantages associated with birth control implants, but women who have had or are currently battling birth control should not use this contraception method or any method that contains hormones.
Irregular or changing menstrual cycles is a common side effect, but this isn't necessarily a disadvantage. Some women experience lighter and shorter periods while some have heavier, longer cycles. Some will stop having periods altogether.
Other Potential Mild Side Effects May Include:
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Tenderness at implant site
For more information, contact a professional reproductive health service, such as Advanced Urology Associates.