Contraceptive implant

Contraceptive implant

The contraceptive implant is a small, bendy plastic rod, about the size of a matchstick, 4cm long and 2mm thick. It contains the hormone progestogen and is placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse.

It gradually releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream which stops you from getting pregnant. The hormone prevents the release of an egg each month and also thickens the lining of the cervix making it harder for sperm to pass through. The contraceptive implant lasts for 3 years.

How effective is it?

How effective is it?

The contraceptive implant is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Some medicines and antibiotics can reduce its effectiveness. If you are concerned about this you can come and have a chat with one of our specially trained doctors or nurses.

Who can use it?

Who can use it?

Most women can use the contraceptive implant. If you have had breast cancer, or there is a history of heart disease or stroke in your family then it may not be suitable for you. A doctor or nurse at your Devon Sexual Health clinic can talk to you about your health and lifestyle and which form of contraception would be best for you.

Side effects

Side effects

During the first few months you may experience temporary side effects such as headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings although these should settle down. Some women may also notice that their periods get heavier, lighter or go on for longer than before. For some, their period may stop altogether. This isn’t harmful and your periods should quickly return to normal once the implant is removed. Some women may also get acne or their acne may become worse.

Where can I get it?

Where can I get it?

You can get a contraceptive implant fitted at any of our Devon Sexual Health clinics. You need to book an appointment with one of our doctors or nurses who will ask you some questions about your health and lifestyle to check that the implant is right for you.

Additional information

Additional information

Having the implant fitted
The doctor will numb the area before making a tiny cut on your upper arm. The contraceptive implant is then inserted under the skin. The process is very quick and painless. Occasionally the area around the implant can feel quite bruised and tender but this will go fairly quickly. It’s a very quick process and the whole visit shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

Removing the contraceptive implant
The doctor will numb the area around the implant before making a tiny cut and pulling the implant out with a pair of tweezers. The cut will be very small and you won’t need stitches.

Your fertility will begin to return as soon as the contraceptive implant has been removed and you will need to think about other forms of contraception .

Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons

  • It lasts for 3 years
  • You don’t need to think about contraception or remember to take a pill
  • It uses a different type of hormone to the contraceptive patch, the pill and the vaginal ring so it may be more suitable for some people
  • It doesn’t protect against STIs
  • You may have some temporary side effects such as headaches, sore breasts and moodiness
  • In some women it can cause acne
How can we help you?

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info