Home Health & Wellness Know Your Options: Exploring the Different Types of Contraceptive Implants

Know Your Options: Exploring the Different Types of Contraceptive Implants

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For many individuals, finding an effective and convenient form of contraception is a top priority. If you are thinking of a long-lasting contraception that is easy and convenient, implants might be for you. But with different types of contraceptive implants on the market, it can be hard to know your best option – especially if you’re unfamiliar with their differences. 

This post will discuss contraceptive implants available today and provide an overview of each one’s benefits and possible side effects to decide which birth control selection will work best for your own needs. Ready to dive in about what are the types of contraceptive implants? Read on!

Quick facts about contraceptive implants

Contraceptive implants, better known as birth control implant, is a form of LARC (long-lasting reversible contraception). It is made up of small, thin, and flexible rods inserted under the upper arm’s skin. The size of the implant can be compared to a matchstick. 

Implants are popular in the USA, UK and Australia; they are now gaining popularity in Asia and Singapore as they are:

  • 99% effective
  • It lasts up to three years
  • Minimally invasive
  • Discreet
  • Easy to Use
  • Convenient
  • No downtime
  • Changes menstrual cycle (little to nothing)
  • Reversible
  • Estrogen-free

How does a contraceptive implant work?

Implants are progesterone-based birth control. It contains a single type of hormone that is released to the body when implanted. When this hormone is released, it inhibits ovulation from taking place to prevent pregnancy. It keeps the uterus lining thin for the fertilized egg to be unfavourable to implant in the uterus. The hormone also thickens cervical mucus so the sperm cannot reach the egg. 

What are the types of contraceptive implants?

Today, you will learn about two contraceptive implant types – etonogestrel and levonorgestrel.

Etonogestrel contraceptive implant

Etonogestrel implant prevents ovulation and pregnancy. It is a single-rod, long-lasting, and reversible contraception that releases etonogestrel, a type of progestin hormone. The implant is made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and radiopaque, which is visible on an X-ray.

This implant lasts up to three years, which should be removed after (or replaced if desired to continue). The implant is a long-acting reversible contraceptive that is highly effective, with a less than 1% failure rate. It is important to check that the implant is in place immediately after insertion and to feel for it regularly, as it may move or become dislodged.

Benefits

  • Highly effective, with less than 1% failure rate
  • Convenient and discreet
  • Reversible

Potential Side Effects

  • Spotting or irregular bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Tenderness or pain in breasts
  • Acne
  • Nausea
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Bruising, numbness or infection in the insertion site
  • The implant may be moved or dislodged
  • Vaginal irritation or discharge
  • Clinical depression

Levonorgestrel contraceptive implant

Levonorgestrel is a type of progestin hormone, and it is the active ingredient in many birth control pills. The levonorgestrel implant releases this hormone slowly over time, which helps to prevent pregnancy. It works by multiple methods — thickening cervical mucus that makes it hard for sperm to reach the egg and thinning the uterus lining to make implantation of an embryo less likely.

Levonorgestrel implants have been found to provide effective long-term contraception, with a cumulative pregnancy rate at the end of 5 years of use of less than 2 per 100 users. Despite a high incidence of menstrual adverse events, overall levels of user satisfaction are high, and 1-year continuation rates are better than those for combined oral contraceptives.

Benefits

  • Highly effective in preventing pregnancy, with a success rate of 99-99.95%.
  • Long-acting and reversible, with a duration of up to 5 years.
  • It does not require daily attention or remembering to take a pill.
  • It can be removed anytime, and fertility returns quickly after removal.

Possible side effects

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding patterns, lack of menstruation, spotting, and stomach upset.
  • Headache, stomach cramps, nausea, acne, change in appetite, sweating, weight gain, or irritation at the insertion site.
  • Skin conditions, respiratory conditions, weight change, anxiety, and non-clinical depression.
  • Breast discharge, transient ovarian cysts, infection (including cellulitis and abscess formation), blistering, ulcerations, sloughing, excessive scarring, phlebitis, and hyperpigmentation have been reported.

Who can use the contraceptive implant?

If you are planning not to conceive for the next few years, implants are a good choice. It is a reliable birth control for three years. You don’t need to worry about the risk of being pregnant.

Contraceptive implants are suitable for women who:

  • Prefer long-lasting reversible contraception 
  • Prefer planned parenthood
  • Look for progesterone-only contraception
  • Want an effective birth control
  • Are not suitable for estrogen-containing contraceptive

Choosing the right contraceptive implant

Contraceptive implants offer a highly effective, convenient, and reversible method of birth control. They cater to those who desire a long-term solution without the need for daily attention. They present a variety of options with varying potential side effects and benefits, all of which should be carefully considered alongside personal health and lifestyle circumstances.

The choice lies with the individual in consultation with healthcare professionals to select the most suitable and effective contraception.


Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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