NEXPLANON® or etonogestrel is a hormonal implant that has the capability of preventing ovulation. Ovulation is the phenomenon where the ovary releases an egg. This is usually the early part of the process that finally leads to pregnancy. So, when it suppresses ovulation, there is much less chance of pregnancy. Using Nexplanon causes changes in the uterine lining and cervical mucus, and it thickens the mucus, which makes it harder for the sperm to get to the uterus and difficult for a fertilized egg to attach or implant itself to the uterus.
The Nexplanon implant is used as contraception for the prevention of pregnancy. It is radiopaque as well. It contains some amounts of barium sulfate and hence is visible on scans and x-rays. The hormone etonogestrel is inside a small plastic rod that is implanted just below the skin, usually on the upper arm. This hormone gets released slowly into the female body. The hormones that are released work in two ways – preventing the eggs from leaving the ovaries and thickening the mucus in the cervix, in effect preventing the sperm from reaching its destination. If these two don’t happen, you don’t get pregnant.
The Nexplanon implant can remain inside the woman’s body for three years and provide contraception throughout that time. Because of its effectiveness and ease of use, the pregnancy rate for women who are using a hormonal implant is around 1% only. There are very few, minor side effects and fertility returns promptly after discontinuation. Hence women who want to have children and are using implants can just have them removed, and as soon the hormonal effects wear off, they are ready to conceive.
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Benefits of Using Nexplanon
Nexplanon has the benefits of using a hormonal implant as a contraceptive. It manages contraception through hormones. Hormones are also produced naturally by the human body, and Nexplanon uses similar hormones to prevent pregnancy. The following are the health and lifestyle-related benefits of using NEXPLANON®.
NEXPLANON®, as a hormonal implant, provides good, long-term protection against pregnancy. The contraceptive is 99% effective, which means the failure rate is only 1%. This is quite a good statistic, almost as good as IUD and sterilization. But sterilization cannot be reversed, and using Nexplanon can bring back fertility when desired. It is one of the most effective methods as there aren’t many ways of messing it up. For example, in birth control pills, if women forget to take them and have intercourse, then there is a high chance of pregnancy. But with Nexplanon, the woman doesn’t have to remember to do something or take something every day. There is no way to take it incorrectly either, you just get it implanted and then you don’t have to think about it for the next three years.
Nexplanon can help in reducing period cramps. It also makes the periods lighter in many women. Around one-third of women who use Nexplanon stop getting their periods completely after one year.
This form of contraceptive is very convenient. You need to get it inserted once and then forget about contraception as the implant does its job. This means no ring to put in, no trips to the pharmacy for pills, and no preparation before having sex. It is also very discreet as the implant is under the skin, and no one can see it unless you tell them that you have it.
Some hormonal implants use two hormones – estrogen and progestin. These implants are unsuitable for women who can’t use estrogen-based contraceptives. People have health problems wherein the use of estrogen isn’t the best. Nexplanon is estrogen-free and great at effectively controlling conception; as such, more people are able to use it.
Nexplanon’s effects on a woman’s body are reversible. If a woman decides at any time that she wants to have a child, then she can get it removed. This implant does not affect fertility in any way, nor does it make it harder for women to get pregnant in the future. Usually, one can get pregnant as soon as 14 days after the implant is out.
There is absolutely no maintenance required when a woman uses Nexplanon. Once it gets inserted, it will do its job.
The implant lasts for a long time in the body. Its life is for three years, which is a good period of time during which women don’t have to worry about pregnancy.
Safe for Breastfeeding mothers
It is safe for women who have just had a child and are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding women need to be very careful about what medicines they take. But Nexplanon is perfectly safe for them
How Effective is Nexplanon?
NEXPLANON® is a highly effective contraception option and is used by many women. It is easy to use and has multiple benefits.
- Reliability – NEXPLANON® has more than 99 per cent efficacy in one insertion, and it lasts up to three years. Reports have shown that there is only one woman out of 100 in one year who gets pregnant when using Nexplanon. This shows how effective it is. It is reliable, as isn’t any self-administration needed. Efficacy is arrived at via the continuous release of etonogestrel from the implant over the three year period.
- Convenience – It is very convenient as one insertion can prevent pregnancy for three years. It doesn’t depend on quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily administration. It expires after three years from the date of insertion. When it is being removed after the third year, a replacement can be inserted at that time if continued contraception is needed.
- Discreet – The birth control mechanism is quite discreet as there is no physical evidence on the face. You don’t have to go to the pharmacy for pills, condoms, or the ring. The single Nexplanon is inserted just under the skin in the inside of the upper arm. The small and flexible implant is small in size, so no one will know about it, but the patient.
The effectiveness of NEXPLANON® may be less if the woman is overweight, as the level of hormone circulating in the body and blood will be lesser in women with a high BMI or Body Mass Index when compared to those with a lower BMI. Because of this, doctors may recommend the replacement of Nexplanon between the 2nd and 3rd years in overweight women. However, it must be remembered that the implant isn’t effective in preventing STI’s or STD’s, so using a condom is advised.
Possible Cost & Coverage
Nexplanon isn’t too expensive, and you may get it for free too. The cost of this implant depends on a woman’s insurance plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, you could this implant for free as well. Have a discussion with the doctor to see if Nexplanon is the best option for you. Then check the cost information and insurance plan. It may require a co-pay, other charges, or deductible.
In order to check if you have coverage under pharmacy benefit or a medical benefit, do the following:
- Call the customer care representatives of your insurance provider and note their names.
- Tell them that Nexplanon is a prescribed drug for birth control, and the physician will be prescribing, ordering, and inserting the Nexplanon inside you during a visit.
- Ask the representatives if the Nexplanon implant is covered under the plan. If they say no, then ask them if it is covered as a pharmacy benefit. But to know about a pharmacy benefit, you may need to call the pharmacy and repeat the same steps.
If you find out that Nexplanon is covered in your insurance plan, then continue the conversation with the customer care representatives.
- Ask them if the insertion procedure and NEXPLANON® are covered 100%. If they aren’t, then confirm the out of pocket expenses. Ask about the coverage and costs of removal as well.
- Ask them to send a confirmation message about your coverage to your healthcare provider.
- If written confirmation isn’t provided, take down the name of the representative and tell your healthcare provider about the conversation you had with the representative.
- Make an appointment to get the implant inserted.
If Nexplanon is not covered then do the following:
- Ask the representative if a medical exception can be made in any circumstances and let the healthcare provider know about this.
- If no exceptions are possible, then check for payment plan options in order to pay for NEXPLANON® and the insertion procedure.
Here’s our full list of accepted insurance:
Frequently Asked Questions on Using Nexplanon
Can Nexplanon be used while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding women can make use of Nexplanon if four weeks have passed since she has had the baby. The hormone in Nexplanon can be passed on to into the milk, but the amount is very small. There has been a study on the health of children who were breastfed while the mothers were using Nexplanon, and no effects on development and growth were seen. Breastfeeding women must use this contraceptive in consultation with the physician.
What if a woman gets pregnant while she is using Nexplanon?
Such women must meet the doctor as soon as possible. It will be necessary to remove the implant and ensure that the pregnancy isn’t ectopic. Nexplanon isn’t likely to cause birth defects based on the experience with other hormonal contraceptives.
What if birth control is needed for more than three years?
Nexplanon has to be removed after three years. But if you still need this contraception, then a new implant can be added at the time of removing the old one.
- What happens if a woman changes her mind and wants to stop using Nexplanon before the end of three years?
- The implant can be removed at any time, and a woman can become pregnant as early as the 1st-week post removal. If you don’t want to get pregnant after removal, then you must look at other options for birth control.
Who should not be using NEXPLANON®?
Women with the following issues must not use NEXPLANON®.
- Pregnant women
- Women with thrombosis or pulmonary embolism or women having blood clots
- If a woman is suffering from a liver tumor or lung disease
- Women with cancer who are sensitive to progestin
- Someone who are allergic to Nexplanon’s components
- Women who have unexplained bleeding in the vagina
The above mentioned are some of the cases in which NEXPLANON® is not advised. However, to get the complete picture, a doctor’s consultation is required.
More Q&A answered by Nexplanon Specialist: