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 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 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 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 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
- Depressed mood
Nexplanon may increase risk of blood clots in the veins and arteries. 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, shortness of breath, 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.
If you do become pregnant using Nexplanon, there is a slight increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy occurring outside of the uterus). You should contact your health care provider for any unusual bleeding or abdominal pain.
There is a slight increase risk of ovarian cysts with use of progestin only methods. These usually go away without treatment but can be painful.
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 transmitted infections including HIV.
What are the problems associated with inserting and removal of Nexplanon?
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 or removal site
- Scar tissue may form around the implant making it difficult to remove
- The implant may come out by itself if it was not inserted completely or if it becomes infected
- The need for surgery in the hospital to remove the implant if it is inserted too deeply or has moved beyond the insertion site
- Injury to nerves or blood vessels in your arm during insertion or removal
- The implant breaks making removal difficult
Removal of the implant may be difficult or impossible if the implant has moved or was inserted 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 because it was inserted too deeply. There has been a report of the implant being inserted too deeply, migrating from the insertion site, and being found in an artery in the lung. If the implant is not found in your arm, your health care provider may do x-rays or other imagining to locate it. If it is found in the chest, surgery may be needed for removal. The implant has a special ingredient that makes it show up on an X-ray.
You should not use Nexplanon if:
- You think you might be pregnant
- You have abnormal vaginal bleeding without a known reason
- You have had cancer of the breast or reproductive organs
- You have had a stroke
- You have or had blood clots (phlebitis) in your legs
- You have problems with your liver or liver disease
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 should also inform health care providers that you are using Nexplanon.
You can find out more about Nexplanon by scheduling a consultation with one of our providers.