Contraceptive Implants (Implanon)

  • Over 99.95 % Effective
  • No STI Protection
  • 3 years

What is the implant?

The contraceptive implant (Implanon NXT®) is a soft plastic stick about 4 cm long. The implant slowly releases a hormone, progestogen, into your body. Progestogen is similar to the hormone produced by the ovaries.

Fpv Contraceptive Implant
photo of plastic stick implant

How effective is the implant?

It is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and can last for up to three years.

What stops the implant from working? 

implant may not work if you:

  • Are taking some medications or natural remedies (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist)
  • Leave it in more than 3 years

Local anaesthetic: a medicine used to numb a part of your body for a short while. You remain conscious.

How do I use the implant?

The implant is inserted (injected) under the skin of your inner upper arm by a trained doctor or nurse. A local anaesthetic is used so that you will not feel pain when this is happening.

illustration of implant in arm

How does the implant work?

The implant works by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month.

illustration of eggs not being released by ovaries

It also thickens the fluid around the cervix, (opening to the uterus/womb). This helps to prevent the sperm from entering.  

illustration of mucus in cervix with labels

When does it start to be effective?

When the implant is first inserted into the arm it can take up to seven days to start working to prevent pregnancy.  

Where can I get the implant?

Your doctor will write you a script and you can get the implant from your pharmacy. You will then need to return to the clinic to have the implant inserted. If you don't have a Medicare card it will be more expensive. It will be cheaper if you have a healthcare card.

What is good about the implant?

  • It is the most effective method of contraception
  • Once inserted (put in) you can forget about it for 3/three years
  • It can last up to three years
  • Many users have no vaginal bleeding (period) at all or very light bleeding
  • Periods may be less painful
  • Acne can improve
  • It is another choice if you have problems taking the hormone oestrogen. The Pill (combined pill) and vaginal ring contains oestrogen and progestogen. The implant only contains progestogen.
  • You can use it while breast feeding
  • It is easy to remove
  • Once removed your fertility quickly returns to normal     

Are there any side effects from using the implant?

Your vaginal bleeding pattern (period) will change. It might be more often and/or irregular (at odd times). Around 20% of women will have no bleeding at all (this is not harmful to the body). Frequent or prolonged bleeding, may get better with time. Some medications can help with this bleeding, speak to your doctor or nurse.

Other possible side effects for a small number of users can include:

  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Changes to your skin
  • Sore/ tender breasts; and
  • Mood changes

These side effects often settle with time. The implant has not been shown to cause weight gain.

Can the implant cause any serious health problems?

Rarely the implant is inserted too deep and you may need minor surgery to have it removed.

Reasons why the implant might not be a good option for you:

  • Have been treated for breast cancer
  • Have severe liver disease take certain medications which may prevent the contraceptive implant from working (check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist).

What if I’m late having my implant changed?

Once the implant has been in for more than 3 years, use condoms until you can have it replaced.

What happens if I get pregnant while I’m using the implant?

The implant is not known to harm a pregnancy. It is safe to continue the pregnancy (and remove the implant) or to have an abortion.

Can I use the implant after I’ve had a baby?

The implant can be inserted straight after you give birth, even if you are breast feeding.

What if I’m using the implant and I want to become pregnant?

The implant must be removed by a trained doctor or nurse.Your fertility will quickly return.

What else should I know about the implant?

  • The implant does not protect you from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
  • It is good to write down the date when you had the implant put in. You will need to make sure it is taken out before it expires (up to 3 years after being inserted).
  • The implant is one of many types of contraception. See other options.

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Where to get more information, support or advice

Implanon training for doctors and nurses

Family Planning Victoria provides professional Implanon NXT training for doctors, nurses and midwives. 

This is general information only, you should speak to your doctor for advice and further instruction.

Last updated: 28 June 2018