26 Jun Contraceptive Implants: An Advanced Approach to Birth Control
Birth Control Implants or Contraceptive implants are match-sized polymer rods placed subcutaneously in arms. Known as Implanon/Nexplanon, these implants are the most advanced and safest method of contraception. It is reported to be 99.5% effective, and most clinical trials do not record even a single case of failure.
Implants aren’t famous yet for some justifiable reasons. They have seen a bloody history. It’s predecessor, Norplant, had caused complications in the clinical trial stage.
The realization led to thousands of lawsuits, and companies dropped Norplant for good. Implanon, however, is backed by over 6000 papers for being efficient and safe for use.
Another reason cited is the same as that for any other temporary contraceptive in less developed countries. Implants are sometimes traceable, and even married couples don’t like addressing sexual activities.
Construction and Working of Contraceptive Implants:
Implanon is rod-shaped and 4 cm long. It consists of an inner tube of 68 mg Progestogen. The progestogen is the common birth-control hormone present in advanced monthly pills.
A layer of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer membrane surrounds it. The structure comes with a disposable injector, which helps inject the implant right under the skin, between the bicep and tricep muscles. The contraceptive implant then keeps releasing progestogen in controlled quantities for the next five years.
The removal of the implant is a 10-minute procedure. The user can get the implant removed anytime during the five years, and it won’t affect her fertility for even two days after the removal. The human body can readily remove progestogen via urine. For continued contraception, researches advice changing the implant after three years have passed.
Advantages and Benefits of Implanon:
• Implanon’s success rate is 99.5%, which means it is ten times more effective than tubectomy.
• It is surprisingly inexpensive, and medical insurances that cover birth control makes it free.
• There is no permanent or semi-permanent effect on fertility.
• There is no question of missing doses, and one doesn’t need to be on constant vigil.
• Women who cannot use estrogen-based contraception can go for progestogen.
• Menstrual discharge is significantly reduced and might even stop entirely while the implant is effective. (Having undergone endless cycles of Amenorrhea followed by Menorrhagia, I find Amenorrhea better for my non-athletic health, hence stating this under advantages.)
• It reduces the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PIV) due to the thick cervical mucus, which prevents microbes from ascending from the vagina into the uterus.
Disadvantages and risks associated with Implanon:
• The user needs to visit a clinic for insertion and removal.
• Side effects are the same as that for other hormone-based contraceptives. Irregular bleeding, nausea, mood-swings, ovarian cysts, and weight gain for the first few months of use. However, these side effects manifest in only about 10% percent of users.
• The majority of pregnancies caused due to failure of contraception (and not because of careless use) are ectopic and may put the mother’s life in danger. The chances of occurrence, however, is negligible (0.5%).
• The wound at the site of insertion is like any other wound and requires sanitization and dressing.
Other Reported Concerns:
• Only condoms protect from STDs. Never give them up.
• Incorrect insertion can cause the implant to migrate from its place. It can be found out by an X-ray during the time of removal.
• With implants being relatively new, legislations are not in place, and everyone is eligible for it.
• Women who have a recorded history of blood clots, ovarian cysts, breast cancer, liver and gall bladder diseases should refrain from using hormonal contraceptives.
There is no dearth of contraceptive methods. Each couple should contact a health counselor or a gynecologist and discuss the available options.