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Birth Control Health Center

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Birth Control Implants: Are They Right for Me?

Birth control implants are devices that go under a woman's skin. They release a hormone that prevents pregnancy.

Two similar implants available in the U.S. are Implanon and Nexplanon, which is gradually replacing Implanon.

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Each implant is a plastic rod about the size of a matchstick. The rods contain a form of the hormone progesterone called etonogestrel.

What to Expect at the Doctor's Office

Your doctor or another health care provider will inject medicine to numb your skin on your upper arm, where you'll get the implant. That may sting a bit.

Then they'll use a device that pushes the rod through a needle. That won’t hurt. It feels like a little bit of tugging. The insertion process may take less than a minute.

Afterward, you should be able to feel the implant under your skin, but not see it.

How Long Does It Work?

You can use a birth control implant for up to 3 years. Then you need to get it replaced.

Removing it can take only a few minutes or 20 minutes, depending on how much scar tissue has formed. Your health care provider numbs your skin and makes a tiny cut near the tip of the implant, then pulls it out.

Implanon vs. Nexplanon

The implant maker, Merck, is phasing out Implanon and replacing it with Nexplanon.

The two implants are nearly identical, but the insertion device for Nexplanon is simpler and avoids placing the implant too deep under your skin.

Also, the Nexplanon rod was designed to be located using X-rays. If you doctor can't feel it under the skin, the X-ray can show if it's in the right place.

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