Implantable contraception (often called the birth control implant)
is a small, flexible plastic tube that doctors put under the skin of a girl's upper
arm. The tube releases hormones that can help protect against pregnancy for up to
How Does Implantable Contraception Work?
The implanted tube slowly releases low levels of the hormone
(the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). If a girl doesn't ovulate,
she can't get pregnant because there is no egg to be fertilized.
The released progestin also thickens the mucus around the cervix.
This makes it hard for sperm to enter the uterus and reach any eggs that may have
been released. The progestin also thins the lining of the uterus so an egg will have
a hard time attaching to the wall of the uterus.
How Well Does Implantable Contraception Work?
Implantable contraception is a very effective method of birth control. Over the
course of 1 year, fewer than 1 out of 100 typical couples using the implant will have
an accidental pregnancy. The chances of getting pregnant increase if a girl waits
longer than 3 years to replace the tube. So it's important to keep a record of when
a tube was inserted, and:
In general, how well each birth control method works depends on a lot of things.
These include whether a girl has any health conditions or is taking medicines or herbal
supplements that might affect its use. For example, some antibiotics or herbs like
St. John's wort can affect how well implantable contraception works.
Some of these side effects may go away after a few months.
Sometimes there can be irritation, infection, or scarring where the tube was placed.
Implantable contraception increases the risk of blood clots. Blood clots can lead
to serious problems with the lungs, heart, and brain. Smoking cigarettes while using
the implant can increase the risk of blood clots. Don't smoke
if you use implantable contraception or another form of hormonal birth control.
Who Can Use Implantable Contraception?
Girls who want long-term protection against pregnancy may be interested in implantable
Not all women can — or should — use the implant. Some health conditions make it
less effective or more risky to use. The implant is not recommended
for those who have had:
Anyone who thinks she might be pregnant should not have a contraceptive implant
Where Can I Get Implantable Contraception?
Implantable contraception is only available from a doctor or other medical professional
who has been trained to insert it. When the doctor can insert the implant depends
on when you had your last period and what type of birth control you currently use.
After numbing the inside of your upper arm, the doctor will use a small needle
to insert the tube under the surface. The whole process only takes a few minutes.
After the tube is in, don't do any heavy lifting for a few days. You'll have a bandage
on for a few days after the procedure.
A health care professional must remove the tube after 3 years. It cannot be left
in a girl's arm, even after it is no longer working. The health care professional
numbs the area, makes a small cut in the arm, and pulls out the tube. The tube can
be removed any time after insertion — there's no need to wait the full 3 years.
How Much Does Implantable Contraception Cost?
The cost of implantable contraception can range from $0 to more than $1,000. There
also may be a charge for a doctor to remove the tube.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
If you use implantable contraception, call your doctor if you: