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What is a Birth Control Implant?

A birth control implant is a long-lasting contraceptive device for females. It is a small flexible plastic tube that is inserted beneath the skin in your upper arm. After successful placement, the implant begins to release a fixed dose of birth control medications into your bloodstream which induce hormonal changes in the female body. These changes prevent pregnancy by bringing alterations in the functioning of the female reproductive system and the menstrual cycle.

What are the Indications for a Birth Control Implant?

Birth control implants are recommended for girls and women who:

  • Want to prevent pregnancy
  • Do not want to conceive
  • Those who are unable to use other contraceptive methods such as pills, vaginal ring, IUDs, etc.

What are the Contraindications for a Birth Control Implant?

Girls or women with the following medical issues are not recommended to have a birth control implant:

  • Serious blood clot disorder
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Chronic health conditions such as:
    • Stroke
    • Diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Liver disease
    • Cancer

How does a Birth Control Implant Work?

A birth control implant prevents conception by releasing the hormones estrogen and progestin through your skin into your bloodstream. These hormones bring about physiological changes in your body to prevent pregnancy including:

  • Prevent ovulation by inhibiting the release of eggs from the ovaries
  • Increase the thickness or consistency of the cervical mucus to stop sperm
  • Other changes in the female reproductive tract which make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterine wall

How to Use a Birth Control Implant?

A birth control implant is placed underneath the skin in your upper arm by a professional expert.

The general steps to place a birth control implant under your skin include:

  • You are placed on your back with one of your arms bent at the elbow and positioned near your head.
  • Your doctor will locate a groove between the biceps and triceps muscles on the inner side of your upper arm.
  • A local anesthetic is administered in the area where the implant is to be inserted.
  • Then, with the help of an applicator, the birth control implant is inserted beneath your skin.
  • Your doctor palpates your arm to confirm the presence of the implant.
  • Care is taken to not insert the implant too deeply, otherwise it becomes difficult to remove and may lead to other unwanted complications.
  • Sometimes, your doctor may perform an ultrasound or an X-ray to confirm that the implant has been inserted correctly.
  • In the end, the insertion site is covered with a sterile waterproof bandage.
  • In addition, a pressure bandage may also be applied to minimize bruising. This can be removed after 24 hours.

Placing a birth control implant usually takes a few minutes.

Common Do’s and Don’ts: Care for Birth Control Implant

You can return home the same day after getting the birth control implant.

  • You should keep your waterproof bandage clean and dry. It has to be kept in place for 3 to 5 days.
  • You can perform most of your regular activities after getting a birth control implant. These include:
    • Shower
    • Exercise
    • Swimming
  • Avoid tight clothes that might rub against the implant.
  • Ensure that your implant stays in place.

You should consult a specialist in case you experience any side effects from the implant.

What are the Risks or Side Effects of Birth Control Implant?

A birth control implant is relatively safe. However, some amount of pain, bruising, bleeding, or scarring is common at the insertion site.

Some common health issues after having a birth control implant may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Skin changes at the site of implant such as redness or rash
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Mood swings
  • Hormonal changes that may lead to acne, changes in the menstrual cycle

In cases where the implant has not been inserted in the first 5 days of the female menstrual cycle, the couple needs to use an alternate form of contraception for up to a week to avoid pregnancy.

What are the Benefits and Advantages of Birth Control Implant?

The major benefit of a birth control implant is that its effects can be reversed anytime if the patient wishes to get pregnant or stop the birth control. All you need to do is visit a trained doctor who can remove the implant safely.

Other benefits include:

  • If your birth control implant has been inserted correctly, it can protect against unwanted pregnancy for as long as 3 years.
  • No stress of missing a dose as the implant continues to release a specific amount of dose at regular intervals.

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