Family Planning

Implant contraceptive: What it is, how it works, and whether it’s right for you

The implant contraceptive is relatively new to South Africa, and for that reason there’s a lot of mystery and uncertainty surrounding it. Here, we explain what it is, how it works and where to get it.

1. What is the implant?

The implant contraceptive is a tiny white plastic rod that is inserted under the skin of the inner, upper arm to prevent pregnancy.

2. How does the contraceptive method work?

The implant works by releasing small amounts of the hormone progestogen into the body. Progestogen stops ovulation (the release of an egg by the ovaries) and thickens the mucous at the opening of the uterus, so that sperm can’t get through. It also alters the lining of the uterus so that a fertilised egg can’t implant in it and start to grow.

3. When does the implant contraceptive start working?

The implant is immediately effective if inserted during the first five days of your menstrual cycle, which starts with the first day of bleeding. The implant is effective after seven days if it is inserted at any other time in the menstrual cycle. Other contraceptive measures such as condoms should be used for these five to seven days, and dual protection should always be used to prevent the spread of STIs and HIV, as contraceptives cannot protect you against sexually transmitted infections.

4. How long does it last for?

The implant contraceptive is effective for three years, after which it should be removed and replaced with a new one.

5. How long will it take for my fertility to return to normal after the implant contraceptive is removed?

Most women return to their normal menstrual cycle and fertility within a month of removing the implant. If you do not want to fall pregnant after the implant is removed, you need to use other methods of contraception as soon as it is removed.

6. How effective is the implant?

The contraceptive implant is very effective at preventing pregnancy, making it one of the more popular birth control methods. It is more than 99% effective.

7. What are the advantages of using the implant contraceptive method?

Using the implant is safe, simple, and convenient. Women like the implant because the ability to fall pregnant returns quickly once you stop using it. It can also be used safely while breastfeeding and it can be used by women who cannot take oestrogen. It provides continuous long-lasting birth control without sterilisation and you don’t have to take medicine every day.

8. What are the disadvantages of using the implant?

Some women may have undesirable side effects such as irregular bleeding, which can occur during the first six to 12 months of use. However, most women adjust to the implant with few or no side effects.

Get the implant contraceptive and other birth control at Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes provides a wide range of dependable, affordable and safe contraceptive options. We offer both long and short-term methods, and are able to advise you, professionally and confidentially, on the best option for you and your body.

Make an appointment at your nearest Marie Stopes centre now to receive the implant contraceptive or to discuss more contraceptive options available to you.

Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)

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