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What is it?

Nexplanon is a soft, flexible rod that is inserted under the skin of you upper arm.  It gradually releases the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy.  It is contains no estrogen.  It is considered a long term contraceptive method because it prevents pregnancy for up to 3 years.   It is more than 99% effective so your chance of getting pregnant when using Nexplanon is very low when it is inserted correctly.

How does it work?

Nexplanon stops the release of an egg from the ovary.  It also thickens the mucus in the cervix and changes the lining of the uterus. 

What are the advantages of using Nexplanon?

  • Nexplanon is a long term contraceptive method so it is very convenient. 
  • It is highly effective. 
  • It is cost effective over time although the initial cost is high. 
  • It has no estrogen in it.
  • It is safe to use.  It is easily reversible. 

What are the disadvantages of using Nexplanon?

The most common side effect of Nexplanon is a change in your normal menstrual bleeding pattern.  Some women will shorter notice shorter or longer bleeding.  Some women may have bleeding or spotting between periods.  Some women will have no bleeding at all.  About 1 out of 10 women have Nexplanon removed early due to an unfavorable change in the bleeding pattern.

Other possible side effects include:

  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Headache
  • Acne
  • Depressed mood

If you do become pregnant using Nexplanon, there is a slight increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (occurring outside of the uterus).  You should contact your health care provider for any unusual bleeding or abdominal pain.

Nexplanon may increase risk of blood clots.  This is especially true if you smoke.  You should see your health care provider immediately  if you develop any unusually severe abdominal pain, chest pain, headache, loss of vision or leg pain.  Blood clots can cause pulmonary embolus, heart attack or stroke.  These are serious and sometimes fatal health problems. 

There is a slight increase risk of ovarian cysts with use of progestin only methods.  There usually go away without treatment.

Nexplanon is not recommended for women who are overweight because it is unknown how effective it is in preventing pregnancy for overweight women. 

Nexplanon does not protect against sexually y transmitted infections including HIV.

What are the problems associated with inserting and removal of Nexplanon?

The implant may be placed too deeply.  Immediately after insertion, you should be able to feel the implant under your skin.  If you can’t feel the implant, it may not prevent pregnancy effectively.

Removal of the implant may be difficult or impossible because the implant may have move or was inserted too deeply.  It has a special ingredient that makes it should up on an X-ray if this happens but may need to be removed by surgery.

Other problems related to insertion or removal include:

  • Pain, irritation, swelling, or bruising at the insertion site
  • Scarring, including a thick scar called a keloid around the insertion site
  • Infection
  • Scar tissue may form around the implant making it difficult to remove
  • The implant may come out by itself. You may become pregnant if the implant comes out by itself. Use a backup birth control method and call your health care provider right away if the implant comes out.
  • The need for surgery in the hospital to remove the implant
  • Injury to nerves or blood vessels in your arm
  • The implant breaks making removal difficult

You should not have Nexplanon inserted if you think you might be pregnant.  Talk to your health care provider about the best time to have Nexplanon inserted.

Tell your health care provider about any medications you are taking before having Nexplanon inserted.  Some medications may make Nexplanon less effective.  It is also important to discuss any health problems you have. 

You can find out more about Nexplanon from your health care provider or visit