Nexplanon implant

How does the implant work?
The Nexplanon implant is a small rod (about the size of a matchstick) that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It is effective for up to 3 years, but can be removed by a health care provider at any time.

The implant contains a small amount of the hormone progestin, which thickens the fluid in the cervix (the opening to the uterus) and stops sperm from reaching an egg and by stopping the release of eggs (ovulation). The implant is the most effective method of birth control available. It is 99.95% effective, meaning that less than 1 out of 1000 users becomes pregnant each year using this method.

How much does it cost?
The implant is free for everyone with MSP and costs about $350 for those without MSP. It may be covered under extended medical plans.

How do I get the implant and how does it feel?
The implant is inserted under the skin of the upper arm by a trained health care provider. The insertion process is very quick. Freezing will be used to numb the skin, at which point you may feel a little pinch or sting. You likely won’t feel anything after that. After the freezing wears off, you may have a bit of an ache in your arm and you may have some short-term tenderness, swelling or bruising. You should be able to feel the rod under your skin – if you can’t, contact your health care provider.

When should I start the implant?
The implant can be inserted at any time. If it is inserted at the time of an abortion, soon after giving birth or within the first 5 days of your period, it starts to work right away. At any other time, you will need to back up with condoms or not have sex for the first 7 days.

What kind of side effects can the implant have?
Possible side effects include headache, weight gain (although studies have shown this may not actually be because of the implant), acne (although acne also sometimes improves on the implant), sore breasts, abdominal discomfort, mood changes, and decreased interest in sex. Most don’t have these side effects and for those that do, they often go away after a few months of use. Once the implant is removed, any side effects go away quickly.

How will the implant affect my periods?
Irregular bleeding is common especially during the first year of use, including spotting, prolonged bleeding or no bleeding. Bleeding tends to lessen over time. If your period goes away while using the implant, this is safe. Your period will go back to normal soon after the implant is removed.

What are the risks of the implant insertion or removal?
Possible complications during insertion include a small risk of bruising, mild bleeding or pain, and infection at the insertion site. Possible complications during removal include a broken, stuck, moved, or deeply inserted implant that is more difficult to remove.

If you are having any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Signs of pregnancy
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Depression
  • Severe, lower abdominal pain
  • Pus, prolonged pain, redness, itching or bleeding at the implant site (may be a sign of infection)
  • If you cannot feel the implant under your skin

Who should not use the implant?
You should not use the implant if you currently have breast cancer or a recent history of breast cancer in the last 5 years. It also may not be recommended if you have acute liver disease or a liver tumour and if you have abnormal, undiagnosed uterine bleeding it may need to be investigated before you get the implant.

When should I get the birth control implant removed and how does it feel?
The implant works for up to 3 years, at which point it needs to be removed. You can also have it removed at any time if you want to stop using it. Implant removal is very quick, but takes a little bit longer than having it put in. Just like with insertion, you will be given some freezing. Then the health care provider will make a small incision (cut) to remove the implant. You may feel a little pinch or sting when the freezing is given but likely won’t feel anything after that. You can also have another implant put in at the same time.

Your arm may feel a bit tender or swollen and you may have some bruising after having your implant removed. It is also possible for the removal to cause a small scar.

How quickly can I get pregnant after it’s removed?
Fertility returns very quickly after the implant is removed and it is possible to get pregnant right away. If you do not want to be pregnant, talk to your health care provider about how to safely switch methods – a new one will need to be started right away once the implant is removed.

Questions? Contact the Sex Sense Line at 604-731-7308 (1-800-739-7367) or
Back to Birth Control Methods

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Everywoman’s sits on the traditional, ancestral, and un-ceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples– xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam),  Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish).