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What is the Implant? Does it really last three years?

Implanon or Nexplanon 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 the upper arm. The rod can be removed by a health care professional at any time.

If you want the Implant, you can find a health care provider near you who is trained on how to insert one by calling Planned Parenthood 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, the outline of the Implant may be visible. It may be possible to feel the Implant in your arm.

How well does it work?

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

Like other hormonal birth control methods, the Implant does not provide any protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so using a condom too will protect you against 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 the provider can try to minimize the side effects or take out the Implant if it isn’t right for you.

How much does it cost?

The Implant could cost up to $300 to insert and another $100 to remove without health insurance; with insurance there is no co-pay for getting hormonal birth control. 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. You’ll need to ask your health care provider and your insurance company—if you are using insurance—about the cost when considering this birth control method. Most clinics will only ask you to pay what you can afford or may offer services for free if you don’t want to go through insurance.

For more information check out this FAQ.

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