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My Experience on the Birth Control Implant

By , 19, Contributor Originally Published: December 15, 2014 Revised: November 7, 2018

Did you know that you can get birth control… in your arm?! Yep, it’s true! I’ve been using a birth control implant for the last two years and am going to share my experience with you.

Why I Chose a Birth Control Implant

When I was 17, I knew I needed to start using some form of contraception because I was planning to become sexually active soon. I went to a school with abstinence-only sexuality education and had parents who weren’t very open about sexuality. But I was luckily armed with information; I had already been doing research and knew that I wanted to get Implanon or “the Implant,” even before my doctor’s appointment

Implanon is a hormonal contraceptive implant. (It looks like a small rod.) It is 99.9-percent effective at preventing pregnancy. A healthcare provider inserts it in your upper arm. Although it’s less commonly known than other forms of birth control, it lasts for up to three years and is extremely effective and safe. And insertion is almost painless.

I chose Implanon because I knew I wanted to go on contraception that was long lasting, fairly painless, wouldn’t need to be monitored or taken daily and didn’t require a yearly gynecological exam. (At my age and with my lack of sexual activity, a gynecological exam was unnecessary).

Once the pain subsided, I wasn’t even able to tell that it was there. I don’t even know it’s there unless I go and squeeze the part of my arm where it’s located.

Getting the Implant

As I was discussing Implanon with my doctor, she agreed that it would be a good choice for me. When I went in to actually get it inserted, I was nervous. Luckily, the Affordable Care Act had just kicked in, which meant that my implant was not only free, but I didn’t even need to pay a co-pay to see the doctor. (I was using my parents insurance, and they were OK with me getting Implanon since I was almost 18 at the time. I explained it to them as being more for period regulation, which was an honest reason I got it.) Since I hadn’t yet been sexually active, my doctor didn’t require me to take a pregnancy test. Know that if you have had sex, they’ll require you to take a pregnancy test before insertion.

When it was time for the doctor to begin the process, she gave me a numbing shot to reduce the pain. She and a nurse practitioner then stood to my left, holding a small device that injected the implant just below the skin of my upper arm. Before I knew it, it was over. It hurt a little, but I’m also very sensitive to pain. Afterwards they wrapped my arm in a compression bandage; it was a little sore for about a day, but healed quickly. Once the pain subsided, I wasn’t even able to tell that it was there. I don’t even know it’s there unless I go and squeeze the part of my arm where it’s located.

Birth Control Implant Side Effects

One of the possible side effects of Implanon is lighter, shorter periods, and some people actually stop menstruating altogether. For me, this was a positive side effect because I had dealt with very heavy, long periods. My periods did, in fact, almost completely cease. There are some months where I still menstruate, but in general I only experience light spotting. Some people like to have consistent periods to have a reassurance they aren’t pregnant, but I am definitely not one of them. It’s nice not to have to spend $10 or more a month on menstrual products!

Because it’s a hormonal method and I’m extremely sensitive, I was scared that it could possibly have negative effects on my behavior or moods. Thankfully though, it hasn’t caused me any problems and I’ve adjusted to it quite nicely.

Choosing What’s Right for You

Implanon lasts for up to three years and mine will expire next July. I haven’t had any problems with this method and believe that I will renew my subscription, so to speak. However, I am considering getting the hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) Mirena because it lasts up to five years and can also cause shorter, lighter periods. Not having regular periods is something I now enjoy. I have no desire to go back to menstruation. So, I plan to continue using methods that will allow for this.

I found a long-acting hormonal birth control that works really well for me. Do the research and then talk to your parent or guardian and a healthcare provider about choosing the birth control method that’s right for you. That’s what’s most important.

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