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What is Implanon? Does it really last three years?

Implanon is a small, thin, implantable hormonal contraceptive, and yes, it is effective for up to three years. A trained health care professional inserts the small rod into a girl or woman’s upper arm. The rod can be removed by a health care professional whenever the girl or woman is ready to become pregnant or when she wants to change her birth control method.

If a girl wants Implanon, she can find a trained heath care professional who knows how to insert it through the Implanon website or by calling Planned Parenthood for a reference in her area at 1-800-230-PLAN (7526).

How does it work?

The small rod releases a synthetic hormone called progestin. This hormone keeps the ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation). It also thickens the cervical mucus, preventing sperm from joining with an egg.

Usually, the implant is not visible under the skin. However, in some girls, the outline of the implant may be visible. It may be possible to feel the hormonal implant in the arm.

How well does it work?

Implanon is highly effective, both in “perfect use” and “typical use.” Since girls don’t have to remember to take a pill at the same time every day, there is very little room for error. In fact, Implanon is considered one of the most effective forms of birth control available. It has more than a 99-percent effectiveness rate.

Like other hormonal birth control methods, Implanon does not provide any protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Partners need to use condoms and get tested regularly for STDs.

Are there side effects?

Side effects are rare, but do exist. They include the following:

  • irregular bleeding or spotting
  • light or no periods
  • acne
  • change in appetite
  • change in sex drive
  • cysts on the ovaries
  • depression
  • discoloring or scarring of the skin over the implant
  • dizziness
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • pain at the insertion site
  • sore breasts

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider, so that she or he can help minimize the side effects or take out Implanon if it isn’t right for you.

How much does it cost?

Implanon could cost up to $300 to insert and another $100 to remove. Keep in mind that it is effective up to three years, so this could be cheaper than other forms of birth control in the long run. The costs vary by clinic—it could be less expensive at one clinic and more expensive at another. Some health insurance plans cover Implanon. Girls need to ask their health care provider and their insurance companies about price when they are considering this birth control method.

For more information and photos of birth control methods, check out this FAQ.

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