• Text Resize A A A
  • Print Print
  • Share Share Share Share

Contraceptive Implant

How effective is it?

Of 100 women using implants, less than one may become pregnant each year. An implant is effective in preventing pregnancy when left in place for up to three years.

Advantages of implants

  • Along with IUDs, implants are the most cost-effective reversible method of birth control
  • Safe and effective in preventing pregnancy
  • Maintenance free for up to three years
  • If a woman wants to become pregnant, it is very easy for a health care provider to remove the implant.
  • There is nothing you have to remember, which is great for people who have a hard time remembering or don't want to use other methods like the pill, patch or ring.
  • Your male partner doesn't have to know about it or do anything different.

How do I get it?

A healthcare professional needs to put the implant under your skin. To search for a clinic near you use our Clinic Locator.

Download Implants Fact Sheet

Quick Facts


Effectiveness in Preventing Pregnancy

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


  • Health care provider inserts a single rod under the skin of the upper arm.

STI Protection

  • No.

Office Visit Required

  • Yes, only available through a health care provider.

What is the contraceptive implant?

A contraceptive implant is a birth control method that uses a thin, matchstick-sized, plastic rod that is placed under the skin inside the upper arm. The implant releases progestin, a hormone found in birth control pills. Hormones are chemicals that control how different parts of your body work. The progestin causes cervical mucus to thicken and the lining of the uterus to thin. This keeps sperm from reaching the egg.

How do I use it?

A health care provider will give you local anesthesia, then put the implant under the skin of your arm with a special needle. It is a simple procedure, done in the office, and takes only a few minutes. It may take a week for the implant to begin working, so ask if you need to use a back-up method of birth control—like a condom—in the meantime.

The implant will work well in preventing pregnancy for up to three years. A health care provider can easily remove the old implant and replace it with a new one at that time. The rod can also be taken out anytime if you decide you want to get pregnant.


  • Requires a clinic visit
  • Provides no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV
  • May cause light or irregular bleeding or changes to a woman's period, especially in the first few months
  • Possible weight gain
  • Possible breast or abdominal pain


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Contraceptive Technology," Robert A. Hatcher, MD, MPH et. al., 20th revised edition, Contraceptive Technology Communications Inc., 2011.

Food and Drug Administration

Office on Women's Health

Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on August 16, 2016