Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Babies: Implanon

This one is relatively new - it was FDA approved in 2006. Implanon is a tiny rod that's inserted into a woman's upper arm that delivers a continuous supply of the hormone progestin, which prevents ovulation (among other things) for about 3 years. It's similar to an older product called Norplant, which was discontinued in the US in 2000, but is more effective and has fewer side effects.

these guns ain't tryin' to have no babies

Implantation is done with a local anesthetic, takes only a few minutes, and costs between $400-$800. Removal also occurs under local anesthetic, but takes longer than implantation and only costs between $75-$150. Both are usually covered by insurance or Medicaid.

Implanon is more than 99% effective, meaning less than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant while using it. It's progestin-only, so women who can't take estrogen or are breastfeeding can use it. Monthly period often become lighter and less frequent, with 1 in 3 women stop having a period altogether after about 6 months. If a woman wants to get pregnant, she can usually do so within a month or two of removing the implant.

There can be spotting between periods for the first 6 months or so, and there can be some discoloration, scarring and pain at the implant site. Other than that, the side effects are similar to that of other hormonal birth control: nausea, decreased sex drive, sore boobs, weight gain and mood swings.

From what I can see, women are split on Implanon. Those who like it really like it - a former co-worker of mine loved hers, and she was not one to be shy with complaints. Most women do experience some of the side effects listed above, especially in the first 6 months, but for some they either go away or are not troublesome. For others, though, the symptoms are more serious - acne, constant nausea, headaches and serious mood disturbance. Several women reported needing to have the implant removed after only 8-12 weeks.

I would personally hesitate before using Implanon, but systemic hormonal birth control tends to make me go batshit crazy. If hormones are something you tolerate well, though, Implanon sounds like it could be your new best friend.

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