The contraceptive implant is a small flexible plastic rod that’s placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse. It releases the hormone progestogen gradually into your bloodstream and is effective for 3 years. It's one of the most effective forms of contraception out there and is great if you find it difficult to remember to take the pill every day.
There is no proof that the implant causes weight gain. Women can put on weight while using the implant, but this is thought to be due to natural weight gain as part of ageing that would happen normally without contraception. You can also find out more in our guide to contraception and weight.
Can the implant affect your moods?
Some women report that hormonal contraception can negatively impact their mood, however there is no definitive scientific proof as to whether there is an explicit link. When choosing contraception, it's important to consider your individual risk against factors such as your age, medical history and contraceptive history. Make sure to check out our users' reviews and find out more in our guide to contraception and mood.
Does the contraceptive implant stop periods?
The implant can cause different bleeding patterns in each woman. This can vary from a normal cycle, to prolonged bleeding to no periods at all. Around 20% of women can expect to have no periods and 30% of women can expect less than one period a month. Checkout our side effects section to see how women who have reviewed the implant at The Lowdown report changes to their bleeds.
Why is my contraceptive implant itching?
Itching is an uncommon side effect of the implant which may affect fewer than 1 in 100 people. If itching persists or is associated with any skin changes, speak to your doctor or nurse.
Does the implant cause acne?
The implant contains the hormone progesterone which can increase the amount of oil (sebum) produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin leading to more spots. This affects women in varying amounts and many women don't notice a difference at all. Take a look at their reviews and experiences above. If you suffer from acne it may be worth considering stopping progestogen only contraception and switching to a combined method (combined hormonal contraception containing oestrogen is used as a treatment for acne) or non-hormonal method. Your doctor can also discuss medical treatments for acne with you. You can also read our guide to acne and the pill where we discuss the impact of hormonal contraception on skin.
How the Implant works:
The contraceptive implant is a small flexible plastic rod that’s placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse. The implant prevents pregnancy by releasing the hormone progesterone into the bloodstream in 3 main ways – stopping ovulation, making the fluid in your cervix thicker (which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the womb), and preventing the lining of your womb thickening enough for fertilised egg to implant in it.
Some medicines can make the implant less effective. Read our comprehensive guide to the implant here.
How to use the Implant:
Your doctor or nurse will get you to lie down and inject the skin of the inside of your upper arm with local anaesthetic. This numbs the part of your upper arm where the implant will be inserted. They use an applicator-like pencil to put it in your arm - it will only take a few minutes to insert and feels similar to having an injection. You won’t need any stitches and your doctor or nurse will show you how to feel the implant with your fingers so that you can check it’s in place. We recommend wearing a loose top and obv don't expect to have an arm session at the gym the day after getting it fitted!
For more information about the insertion process, you can read our guide to getting the implant fitted.
You will need to get the implant replaced every 3 years.
How safe is the Implant:
The contraceptive implant is a really safe form of contraception. However, if you ever can't feel the implant, or feel as though it’s changed shape or become painful, you should go back to your doctor. Rarely you may get an infection in the skin of your arm after the implant is fitted.
For more information about the contraceptive implant, you can read our comprehensive guide here.
It's important to remember that it does not protect you from STIs.