What are the advantages and disadvantages of the implant?
It must be noted that there are several advantages and disadvantages linked with having the implant fitted.
Some of the advantages of the implant include:
- it can work for 3 years
- it does not interrupt sex
- it is an option if you cannot use oestrogen-based contraception, like the combined contraceptive pill
- it is safe to use while you breastfeed
- your fertility will return to normal once the implant is removed
- it may reduce period pain or heavy periods
- it is very useful for women who have difficulty remembering to take a contraceptive pill at the same time each day
Some of the disadvantages of the implant include:
you may get temporary side effects for the first few months, like nausea, headaches, and tender breasts
- your periods may stop altogether or be irregular
- you may get acne, or your acne may get worse
- you will need a small procedure to have the implant fitted and taken out
- it does not protect you against STIs so you may need to use condoms too
What does the implant do to periods?
When you have the implant fitted, vaginal bleeding may become lighter, irregular, longer, or heavier than normal. A common side effect of the implant is that your periods stop (amenorrhoea). Although this is not harmful, you may wish to consider this before deciding to have the implant fitted.
Does the implant cause acne?
The implant can cause acne. If you have acne before getting the implant fitted, you may find it gets worse over time. If this happens you can speak to your GP about using acne treatment.
Does the implant cause weight gain?
The implant does not cause weight gain. Though it’s listed as a potential side effect by the manufacturers, more recent studies have found that the implant isn’t associated with weight gain.
Does the implant cause migraines?
You may get temporary side effects during the first couple of months of having the implant fitted. These can include headaches and more rarely, migraines. If you develop migraine symptoms you should speak to your GP to confirm the diagnosis and check for any other causes.
Risks of the implant
In rare instances, the area of skin where your implant is fitted can become infected. If this happens, you may need to get antibiotics to treat it.
You must see your doctor or healthcare professional if:
- you cannot feel the implant
- the implant feels like it has changed shape
- you spot any changes to your skin or feel pain at the site where the implant is
- you become pregnant
- you develop any serious side effects
Some medicines can make the implant less effective. These include:
- some medicines for epilepsy and HIV
- some antibiotics, like rifampicin and rifabutin, commonly used to treat TB
- some antifungal medicines
- complementary remedies, like St John’s Wort
- ellaOne, one of the emergency contraception pills
If you are taking any medication you should always tell the health professional inserting your implant. If you start any new medications always check with the prescriber or your pharmacist whether this will affect your implant. They can let you know how long you will need to use additional contraception like condoms. Alternatively, you may choose to use a different form of contraception that is not affected by your medicine.