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Find out about our vasectomy, contraception, and counselling services.

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The Contraceptive Implant

Find out all you need to know about the contraceptive implant

The 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 to five years, depending on type.

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.

Contraception at MSI UK

At MSI UK, we primarily offer contraception services as part of your abortion care. We also recently launched new contraception-only clinics in a number of areas, meaning you can access contraception with us without having had a termination of pregnancy. Follow the link to find out more about our standalone contraception services.

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:

  • What it is
  • How effective it is in protecting against pregnancy
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Risks
MSI UK nurse holding a contraceptive implant

Getting the implant 

In your first appointment with a doctor or clinician, you will discuss a range of contraceptive methods to find the one that suits you. Often, you will talk about your lifestyle, preferences, needs and medical history, and the clinician will assess the risks and benefits of contraceptive methods for the individual, considering all alternatives.

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 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.

With typical use, up to 1 out of 100 users will become pregnant.

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.

Advantages, Disadvantages, Side Effects and Risks of the Implant

As with all contraceptive methods, there are a range of advantages, disadvantages and potential side effects when using the implant.

Advantages of the Implant

  • Once in place, you don’t need to think about the implant or do anything until it needs replacing, which can be up to either three or five years depending on the type of implant you are using.
  • 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.

Disadvantages of the implant

  • 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.

Risks associated with the implant

  • 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.

Where can I get the implant?

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 recently launched new contraception-only clinics in a number of areas, meaning you can access contraception with us without having had a termination of pregnancy. Follow the link to find out more: MSI UK Contraception Clinics

Try "Choice"!

It’s important to know more about different contraceptive options so that we can support you as best we can. Our digital counsellor "Choice" helps you find the best contraceptive options for you. Fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle, preferences, needs and medical history, and you'll see a list of the most appropriate contraception options for you, or compare and view information on specific contraceptive methods.

Other LARC Methods

LARC methods include the contraceptive implant, the contraceptive injection, and both coils (IUD and IUS). Click on the links below to find out more.

The Contraceptive Injection

Find out all you need to know about the contraceptive injection.

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The Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Find out all you need to know about the intrauterine device (IUD).

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The Intrauterine System (IUS)

Find out all you need to know about the intrauterine system (IUS).

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