The contraceptive implant
The contraceptive implant is one or two small plastic rods which are about 4cm long, and sit just under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. The implant prevents pregnancy for three years.
The implant works by slowly releasing a hormone called progestin in your blood. The hormone stops the body releasing an egg each month. The hormone also makes it harder for sperm to get into the uterus.
Video – the implant
Would you like to find out everything you need to know about the implant in under two minutes? We’ve created this short explainer video, filled with information about the implant including:
– What it is
– How effective it is in protecting against pregnancy
Getting the implant
Inserting the implant is a simple procedure that takes about five minutes. A trained person inserts the implant under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. Your arm is numbed before insertion, so it is generally not painful. Once inserted the implant does not move around your body, although it may occasionally move slightly from the incision sight. This should not affect the efficacy of the implant, and implant removal should still be easy. You can feel the contraceptive implant under the skin.
In the first few days after insertion, keep the section of your arm where the implant was inserted clean and dry if you can. You can wrap your arm in cling-film when you have a shower. You can remove the bandage after a few hours and remove the dressing after 2 – 3 days. You will have a small puncture mark where the implant was inserted into your arm, but it should not be painful.
In this image, you can see a dummy implant used in clinics to show the client what the implant will feel like in their arm.
Effectiveness of the implant
The implant is the most effective contraceptive method available, and works very well at preventing pregnancy.
The implant is more than 99% effective with perfect use.
Fewer than 1 in 100 people using the implant will get pregnant in a year.
How long does the implant take to work?
If the implant is fitted during the first five days of your menstrual cycle, you’ll be immediately protected against becoming pregnant. If it’s fitted on any other day of your menstrual cycle, you’ll need to use additional contraception (such as condoms) for seven days.
The mini pill – the perfect ‘bridging method’
If you haven’t quite made up your mind about contraception, you may want to consider a temporary or ‘bridging’ method to get you from now until you get the method of your choice without putting you at risk of an unwanted pregnancy.
The mini pill is the perfect ‘bridging method’, due to how quickly it protects against pregnancy.
Other LARC methods
Follow the links below to find information about other long-acting reversible contraceptive methods.
The contraceptive injection
Find all you need to know about the contraceptive injection.
The non-hormonal coil (CU-IUD)
Find all you need to know about the non-hormonal coil (also known as the copper coil).
The hormonal coil (LNG-IUD)
Find all you need to know about the hormonal coil (formerly known as the IUS).
Advantages, disadvantages, side effects and risks associated with the implant
Once in place, you don’t need to think about the implant or do anything until it needs replacing after three years.
You can get the implant removed whenever you want.
Your fertility will return to normal immediately after the implant is removed.
You can have an implant inserted right after childbirth, abortion or miscarriage.
It is not used during sex so will not affect spontaneity.
Most users will have a change in their bleeding patterns. The amount of bleeding is usually the same or less than usual but can be irregular. Some users may stop having monthly bleeds. These changes in bleeding are not harmful to your health and will return to normal when the implant is removed.
A small number of users may experience other side effects with the implant, such as acne, headaches, mood changes, or breast tenderness or weight gain. However, these symptoms usually resolve within a few months.
Use of some medications, such as those for seizures (fits), HIV or for tuberculosis, can make the implant less effective. Check with your medical provider if your medications are compatible with the implant.
Condoms are the only contraceptive method which protect against sexually transmitted infections. To ensure protection from both pregnancy and infection, we recommend “dual protection”. This means using a male or female condom in addition to the contraceptive method of your choice to prevent pregnancy.
The implant sits just under the skin. There may be a very small scar where the implant is inserted and removed but it will not be obvious to others that you have an implant.
There is a very small risk of infection at the site of fitting.
Very rarely an implant can be inserted too deeply, which could cause damage to blood vessels or nerves.
Very rarely, the implant may move, if you cannot feel it seek medical advice.
Having the implant fitted as part of abortion care with MSI UK
As part of NHS-funded abortion care, we offer a range of contraception methods should you wish to start a method at the time of your treatment.
If you are having a surgical abortion with MSI UK, we can arrange for the implant to be fitted during or on the same day as your abortion treatment.
If you have a medical abortion and are collected your abortion tablets in person, you may be able to have your implant fitted at this time – please ask us if you are interested in this option. If you are accessing at-home abortion care (telemedicine), a nurse will be able to arrange an appointment for you to have the implant fitted following your abortion.
Where can I get the implant fitted or removed?
In the UK, you can make an appointment to have the implant fitted or removed – and to access other LARC (Long-Acting Reversible Contraception) services, such as coil fitting and removal – at sexual health clinics, contraception clinics and some GP surgeries.
At MSI UK, we primarily offer contraception services as part of your abortion care. We also offer contraception services in some parts of England for people who have not accessed our abortion services. From these clinics, people can access LARC (Long-Acting Reversible Contraception, such as the coils, the implant and the injection) with us without having had an abortion.
Follow the link to find out more: MSI UK Contraception Clinics
Learn more about contraception
Visit the pages below to find a comparison tool to help you find the right method for you, to learn more about long-acting reversible contraception and to find information about MSI UK’s contraception clinics.
Which method is right for me?
Find a contraception comparison tool that can help you find the right method for you.
MSI UK contraception clinics
Here, people can access long-acting reversible contraception without having had an abortion.
Long-acting contraceptive methods include the coils, the injection and the implant.