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Updated: Feb 1

What is the Birth Control Implant?

The birth control implant, also called Nexplanon, is a small, thin rod that is inserted into your arm. It's extremely effective at preventing pregnancy.

By extremely effective, we mean over 99% effective, making it one of the most reliable forms of contraception available.

This is because implants leave no room for error. Unlike condoms, birth control, and many other forms of contraception, you don't need to remember to use it. Because they last for years, you can get an implant inserted and won't have to worry about it again until it expires.

The birth control implant does not protect you from STIs.

Only condoms and dental dams can protect you from STIs.

Vector drawing of a woman with her arm raised to show a birth control implant beneath the skin of her arm
Woman showing how the birth control implant goes just below the skin on the arm (Image Source: PRISM FL, Inc / Nikhil Kanda, Sarah Bruso)

How it Works

The birth control implant uses the hormone progestin.

Progestin works to prevent pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix to trap the sperm and sometimes prevent ovulation. These make your periods lighter, and you may stop getting your period at all.

If you get the birth control implant inserted within the first 5 days of your period, these protect against pregnancy immediately. If it's inserted at any other point in your cycle, you'll be protected after 7 days. It lasts for up to 5 years, and you can get pregnant again as soon as it's removed.

Getting an Implant

Birth control implants have to be inserted by a doctor or nurse. If you have health insurance, you can likely get the implant for free.

When getting the implant, your doctor will numb the area of your arm where it will be inserted. Then, they will use a special tool to place the implant under your skin. This usually only takes a few minutes.

Usually, you'll just feel a small pinch when getting the numbing shot. After that, you won't be able to feel the insertion.

Your arm may feel tender or swollen around the site of the implant for the first few days. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to clean the area around the implant.

Removing an Implant

If your birth control implant is about to expire and you still don't want to get pregnant, or if you want to get pregnant now, you'll need to have your implant removed.

This is usually very simple. Your doctor will numb your arm, similar to insertion, and then make a small incision to remove the implant.

Usually, you'll just feel a small pinch when getting the numbing shot. After that, you won't be able to feel the removal.

Unless you start another form of hormonal birth control, your period will go back to how it was before you got your implant. You can get pregnant as soon as you get your implant removed.



Birth Control Implants | Nexplanon Information. Planned Parenthood. (n.d.).


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