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Contraceptive Implant


Effectiveness in Preventing Pregnancy

  • Of 100 women using contraceptive implants each year, less than one may become pregnant.
  • Inserted under the skin of the upper arm.
  • No STD protection.
  • Office visit required.

What is the contraceptive implant?

A contraceptive implant is a thin, matchstick-sized, plastic rod that is placed under the skin inside the upper arm. The contraceptive implant will prevent pregnancy for up to three years.

The implant releases progestin, which is a hormone also found in birth control pills. Hormones are chemicals that control how different parts of the body work. The progestin causes cervical mucus to thicken and the lining of the uterus to thin, keeping sperm from reaching an egg.

After three years, a healthcare provider can easily remove the old implant and replace it with a new one. The rod can also be taken out anytime if you decide you want to get pregnant or for any other reason.

How effective is it?

Of 100 women using contraceptive implants each year, less than one may become pregnant.

How do I get it?

A healthcare provider will put the implant under your skin. During this simple procedure, you will be given local anesthesia (numbing medicine) before the implant is inserted with a special needle. The procedure takes only a few minutes. It may take up to a week for the implant to begin working, so ask your healthcare provider if you need to use a back-up method of birth control during this time, such as a condom.


Advantages of implants

  • The implant, along with intrauterine devices (IUDs), is one of the most cost-effective, long-acting reversible methods of birth control.
  • It is safe and effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • It is maintenance-free for up to three years.
  • If a woman wants to become pregnant, it is very easy for a healthcare provider to remove the implant.
  • There is nothing you have to remember in order for the implant to work. This is great for people who do not want to use other methods like the pill, patch, or ring.
  • It is private. It is your choice if your partner knows about it.

Drawbacks of implants

  • The implant requires an office visit for insertion.
  • The implant does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. Always use a condom to reduce the risk of STDs.
  • Women who use implants may experience irregular periods or bleeding, especially in the first few months of use, weight gain, breast tenderness, or abdominal pain.

Did You Know?

Condoms add extra protection against pregnancies and STDs when used with other birth control methods.


Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on June 8, 2017