Please consult your OBGYN or doctor before beginning any form of birth control. This article is an opinion piece.
This is not a horror story about my birth control implant. In fact, this is my success story using Nexplanon, the flexible rod birth control that is implanted in my left arm. I’m not here to tell you statistics about it, or to get super medical in the description of how it works. I’ll leave that up to your doctor. I’m just here to tell you my experience with it—I love it.
So what is Nexplanon? It’s a small rod (4 cm) that is inserted just under the skin of my upper arm that provides birth control. It’s mostly invisible and is a long-term option, since it lasts up to 3 years before needing to be replaced. It releases a slow, steady flow of hormone (non-estrogen) into the bloodstream that keeps ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching any eggs that might still be released.
Why I chose this method (and why you might like it, too):
- I’ve always been scared of IUDs drifting and implanting where they shouldn’t in my uterus. While there’s still a small chance my Nexplanon can shift as well (after all, any foreign object you insert anywhere into your body has this risk), I felt better at the thought of it being nowhere near my baby making organs in case it did.
- I don’t have to remember to take a pill at the same time, each day. Nexplanon gets inserted and then basically forgotten about.
- You can’t see it, but you can feel it. Okay, this might be creepy to some people, but it’s reassuring to me that at any time, I can gently push on my arm where it was inserted and feel the flexible rod. I know it’s where it’s supposed to be and that brings peace of mind.
- It is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
- Getting it out is easy. Just a quick trip to my doctor where she makes a small incision. I’ve had one out before and while it’s not a pleasant experience, it was small enough that the incision did not require stitches.
- I had no problems getting pregnant right away once removed. My doctor told me pregnancy could be a possibility as soon as a week after removal. There’s a reason Nexplanon warns about this scenario in case you don’t want to risk pregnancy so quickly. I was that statistic; I got pregnant with my second child a week after removal of my first Nexplanon.
Side effects? Sure. Of course. Literally every single method of birth control has side effects (even condoms, where some women are actually allergic to them and need to use special ones to avoid a reaction). But while I can’t say exactly how you might react to Nexplanon, I can only share my experience:
- Irregular periods. I’ve had Nexplanon twice now and each time, it was inserted 6 weeks after having a baby. It might have been my breastfeeding combined with the birth control, but my period didn’t return until 9 months postpartum. Once it did, it was “regularly-irregular” for 6 more months. During those 6 follow months, it was like clockwork that I would have two periods a month. Then I went back to no periods for a few months after that (hello, pregnancy scare!). Now it’s back to twice a month. So while this is annoying, I find that it is something I can easily deal with and it’s still worth it. However, I have heard of other women reacting differently, bleeding nonstop for weeks with only a short break before it starts again.
- Hard to lose weight. While I didn’t gain weight while on this type of birth control (I did while on the pill), losing the baby weight from my second child has been twice as hard.
- I’ll include this one because it’s a common side effect many women have to birth control in general and I’m no exception. However, I don’t think my specific headaches can be solely attributed to this birth control only.
- Mood swings for the first few weeks after insertion and removal. While others experience worse and more consistent mood swings, I felt like mine evened out once my body adjusted to getting the birth control in/out. But maybe you should ask my husband what I was like instead of me!
Risks? Again, of course there are. Any time you mess with your body’s natural cycle there are bound to be risks. Here’s my personal experience regarding this area:
- Bruising upon insertion/removal. When inserted, you’re warned there might be bruising on your arm around the injection site. This happened on my first use of Nexplanon but on my second, it looks like I had gotten punched repeatedly in that one area of my arm. It took about two-three weeks for all the bruising to heal. Completely normal, but it was sensitive and gross looking.
- A small scar, hardly noticeable, on the underside of my arm.
- Scar tissue formed around my implant, making it hard to remove the first time. Usually, all it takes is a small incision to then be able to pull the rod out. However, some scar tissue formed around my first bar, making it a little harder for my doctor to remove. It took her maybe 15 minutes longer to get it out than if the scar tissue hadn’t been there but she was able to do it without needing to give me stitches afterwards. In some extreme cases, there is a risk of needing surgery to remove the bar (same risk as an IUD).
Anytime someone asks about Nexplanon and risks, of course most of the responses will be about the negative experiences. Those are moments that remain the freshest in our minds and sound the scariest to others. But ask about the pill, the mini pill, IUDs, or the shot and you’ll get the same type of responses. So I always say:
Just like any form of birth control, there are risks and changes your body will go through. Nexplanon has been (overall) great for me and my body has adjusted fairly well to it. But your body is different than mine so you might react differently. So be sure to speak to your doctor, so they can determine if it’s an option for you. Then you can try it out if you want and if you hate it, it’s easy to remove and try something else more suited for what your body needs.
To read more about Nexplanon, like other risks and benefits of using this birth control option, go to their website’s FAQs HERE.
What do YOU think about a long-term birth control that’s implanted into your arm? Would you try it?