I got the contraceptive implant around December time last year. The brand I got was ‘Nexplanon’ which lasts up to 4 years. The implant is a tiny rod that is inserted under the skin, on the inside of a woman’s arm and is 99% effective. Prior to using Nexplanon, I was on the Pill for about a month, then decided to make the change.
How the Implant is Inserted
The implant is placed in your arm by a trained healthcare provider. During the whole process your arm is numbed with an anesthetic. Once your arm is numb, using an applicator, the implant is inserted under the skin on the inside of your arm. It’s a very quick and easy process that is over with in minutes and as your arm is numbed, you cannot feel the applicator inserting the rod into your skin.
Once the implant is safely placed in your arm and your healthcare provider is happy with the positioning, they will place adhesive strips over the insertion wound, cover with a plaster (band-aid), and then wrap your arm in bandage.
The implant is inserted in your least dominant arm (one you don’t write with). Once they are happy with how everything is looking and how you’re feeling, then you’re free to go.
The aftercare for your arm is simple. You should leave the bandage on for 24 hours to reduce bruising and the plaster can come off after 2 to 3 days, but if you have the implant taken out you should leave the adhesive strips and plaster on for at least 5 days.
Common Side Effects
- stomach cramping/bloating/pain
- mood changes
- increased appetite
- weight gain
- breast tenderness or pain
- hair loss
- weight gain
- problems with contact lenses,
- sore throat
- flu symptoms
- back pain
- menstrual cramps
- changes in menstrual periods
- vaginal itching
- vaginal irritation or discharge
Other side effects of Implanon include
- minor bleeding, and
- scarring at the site where the rod is placed.
I found the whole insertion experience very quick and painless. I felt the anesthetic needle go in, which was to be expected, but that’s about it. They don’t allow you to watch the whole process. They had me lay back on the chair, with my arm out and my head turned in the opposite direction. The nurse was nice enough to explain to me what she was doing, before she actually did it, so I didn’t freak out. When the applicator inserted the rod under my skin, I felt slight pressure but nothing that hurt. That was it, it was in!
I got the feeling back in my arm by the time I had got to my car, which was good because I had the baby with me at the time. Once I got home, I felt okay but an hour or two later, I started to feel extremely nauseous and dizzy! I thought “Well this can’t be good” and that maybe I was having an allergic reaction to it. I had never felt so sick in my life. As a result, I did end up throwing up a few times. My face was red and flushed and then about 30 minutes later, it’s as if it never happened. It was probably my body wondering why the hell I was drugging it.
I tried to keep the bandage on and not get it wet in the shower. I even tied a plastic bag around my arm so it would stay dry and hung my arm out of the shower but after day one I thought “Forget this” and just showered as normal. I took the bandage off earlier because the nurse had put it on too tight and I felt like my arm was about to fall off but I kept the adhesive strips on for 3 days, until they just fell off on their own.
The bruising was rather impressive. It looked like I had fallen off a horse. The area was tender too, but it only lasted a few days. The one thing I did not enjoy was how when I’d roll over in bed or cuddle the baby, I could feel the rod in my arm and it hurt. Nothing severe, but enough to irritate me. I was starting to think “Well, if it keeps poking at my skin like it’s trying to come out of my arm anymore, then I’m getting this thing out”. I got slightly irate one night because it woke me up and I started freaking out that I had something inside my skin and couldn’t get it out. I’ll put that down to a bit of anxiety, which soon passed. Also, touching the area with my hand and feeling the rod inside my arm, made me feel rather nauseous because I’m a wimp!
The nurse advised me not to keep touching it and messing with it. I’ll probably check it like once a week to see if it’s still in place. The nurse warned me about the possibility of it snapping or moving out of place if I played with it but luckily for the most part, I forget that it’s there.
As far as side effects go. I had some itchy skin which lasted maybe a week, then it it went away, thank goodness. That was not fun. My moods are a little up and down lately but luckily, nothing too crazy.
For a little while, whenever I got my period, I got some HORRIBLE cramps that crippled me. I remember driving home one day and I couldn’t change gears because I was in so much pain. I couldn’t put my foot down on the clutch. Awful. That was almost a game changer for me. I was ready to pull the plug and give up on the whole idea of this implant. I was willing to ride it all out to see if my periods stop until this game changer happened.
Here is the game changer..
You see in the list of side effects where it says “increased appetite” and “weight gain”? Honey, let me tell you! It aint lying! My appetite has increased SO much. I want to eat all day, I want to eat everything. I want to eat even when I’m not hungry. I’m just always thinking about food. My portion sizes have upped, I’ve started getting the biggest sweet tooth ever and as a result, I’ve gained 12lbs!!! 12 damn pounds!!! For people in the UK, that is almost a Stone!! I feel heavy, I feel unattractive and insecure, I feel so angry with myself and as a result of the weight gain, my moods are unpredictable, especially once I’ve looked at myself in the mirror. My clothes are tight, I’m tired and sluggish all the time and I feel HORRIBLE!!!
Now, I know I cannot blame just the implant for my weight gain. The implant isn’t forcing me to eat but I know my body and I know that when I do a certain amount of exercise, I can at least maintain the same weight, not just balloon and up 12lbs in a matter of a couple of months. For that reason, I’ve made an appointment to get it taken out.
I personally don’t like drugging my body. I don’t take medicine when I’m sick, I don’t like to depend on medicine all the time and contraception just sucks! I like being in control of my body and I feel like right now, I’m not. I can’t wait to cleanse my body and get my lifestyle back on track.
If I hadn’t have gained 12lbs, I would have probably kept it in. It’s convenient in the sense that you don’t have to remember to take a pill. You also forget it’s there, so it isn’t an annoyance once you get used to it. The side effects for me weren’t enough to make me want to bin it, but rapid weight gain? Oh no honey, no thank you! I’ll pass!
I hope this helps, for anyone who is considering getting the contraceptive implant. Remember, everyone is different, so you may have different or no side effects, but I wanted to share my experience.
Have you ever used Implanon or a different type of implant? What is your opinion on it?
Thanks for reading 🙂