Nexplanon Q & A
Embry Womens Health
What Is NEXPLANON®?
NEXPLANON® is a birth control device that is implanted in the fleshy portion of the upper arm to provide women with a steady release of hormones that help prevent pregnancy. Less than 2 inches long, the NEXPLANON® device is slim and flexible, making it extremely comfortable once in place. Many women prefer the NEXPLANON® device over other types of birth control because it’s very convenient, automatically releasing hormones for about three years before it needs to be replaced. Insertion of the NEXPLANON® implant takes just a few minutes and can be performed right in the office by a certified Nexplanon Specialist.
How Does the NEXPLANON® Device Work?
NEXPLANON® uses progestin, the same type of hormone used in birth control pills. Progestin works by preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries so conception cannot take place. Studies show NEXPLANON® is more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
What Happens During the Insertion Procedure?
The NEXPLANON® device is very slim, and it can be inserted through a very small opening or “nick” made in the skin of the upper arm. A topical anesthetic is used to numb the area before the incision is made. The device is inserted beneath the skin at a depth that makes it invisible to others while still allowing it to be felt when the skin above it is pressed. After the device is inserted, a pressure bandage will be placed over the tiny incision to protect it while it heals. The entire insertion procedure takes just a few minutes to perform.
How Is the NEXPLANON® Device Removed?
Removal is performed in a manner similar to the insertion procedure, using a topical anesthetic to numb the skin before a small incision is made to retrieve the implant. A new NEXPLANON® implant may be placed at the same time if desired.
How Often Does the NEXPLANON® Implant Need to Be Replaced?
NEXPLANON® must be replaced every three years to remain effective. In women who are obese or very overweight, NEXPLANON® may need to be replaced earlier than three years.
How Effective Is Nexplanon?
Nexplanon is one of the most effective forms of birth control, with measured pregnancy prevention rates of 99 percent. Part of the reason that Nexplanon is so effective is that there is little room for human error with this form of birth control. A doctor will inject it into a woman’s upper arm and after approximately 5 days, the hormones are fully effective and the woman can forget about it for the next 3 years until it is time to be replaced. Nexplanon devices can be removed and replaced during the same visit so that women do not experience any gaps in birth control coverage.
Can Nexplanon Be Removed in Less Than 3 Years?
Yes, if a woman wants to have her Nexplanon implant removed before the device releases all of the hormones, she can have it removed by her gynecologist at any time. Fertility is typically back to normal within 5 days of the implant being removed.
Are there any risks or side effects with Nexplanon?
There are possible side effects from both the hormone therapy and the insertion and removal of the implant itself. For example, the insert can migrate in your body, which is uncommon, and may require surgery to remove.
The most commonly reported side effects of the hormone therapy include:
- Longer, shorter, or no bleeding during your menstrual cycles
- Spotting between periods
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
More serious side effects have been reported, and if you think you might be affected by the implant, make an appointment at Embry Women’s Health to get to the bottom of it.
Will it Hurt When Nexplanon Is Inserted?
A local anesthetic is used to numb the insertion area as part of preparation for implantation. The inner arm may be a little tender or bruised after the insertion, but the discomfort should ease fairly quickly.
How is it Used?
The device is implanted under the skin, normally on the inside of the upper arm. The contraceptive it contains is released slowly, over time to provide sustained protection from unwanted pregnancy. It will not, however, protect the patient from contracting sexually transmitted diseases. It can also be used to slow down or stop menstrual cycles for women who have extremely heavy periods. Although there may be some minor spotting or a minimal discharge, the contraceptive does help to control irregular periods and lessen the discomfort associated with them.
What are the Side Effects?
Nexplanon may have side effects. Two of the most common are irritation at the site where the device was implanted and weight gain. Users may also experience, dizziness, breast tenderness, headaches, acne, hair loss, and vaginal irritation. The side effects can range from mild to severe, depending on the person’s overall health. While some women may continue to have their normal period, others may have no period at all or ones that range from shorter to longer and from lighter to heavier. Each woman will be affected differently by the implant. For women who have severe side effects, the implant may have to be removed if the side effects continue to worsen.
Does Nexplanon work for all women?
No. The Nexplanon implant may not be right for you if:
- You are already pregnant
- You have blood clot issues
- You have liver disease
- You have, or had, breast cancer
- You have unexplained vaginal bleeding
Barbara Lockwood WHNP will make a full assessment to determine if you are a good candidate for Nexplanon.