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Contraceptive implant

The implant or “the rods” are a type of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).

  • More than 99% effective
  • Works for 3 or 5 years
  • ‘Fit and forget’ – you don’t need to do anything
  • Your bleeding may change. If it is annoying there are pills to help
  • You can choose when to have it taken out

This page explains the implant, and tells you how to get one.

WHAT IS IT?

The implant is made up of two small rods the size of a matchstick. They are put under the skin in the inside of your arm.

They slowly release a hormone called progestogen.

They work for 3 or 5 years, depending on the kind of implant you have. You can choose to have them taken out whenever you want.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Implants can stop the body from releasing an egg each month. They also thicken the mucus in the cervix so sperm cannot get to an egg.

HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?

The implant is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means for every thousand people using an implant, only a few will get pregnant each year.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The implant costs $5 if you are a New Zealand resident. If you want an implant, you need two appointments – one to check if it’s the right choice for you, and another to have it put in. If you are under 22, appointments are free.

WHAT WILL I NOTICE?

You will be able to feel the implant under your skin.

Your period might change – you might bleed very often or not often at all, or have heavy or light bleeding. Or you could have a normal period or no period at all.

This is all safe for your body. If your bleeding becomes a problem, there are pills you can take that will help.

CAN I GET PREGNANT AFTER THE IMPLANT IS TAKEN OUT?

Yes, you will be able to get pregnant as soon as the implant is taken out.

Pregnancy is very rare with the implant. If you do get pregnant and want to continue with your pregnancy, you will need to have the implant taken out. There is no extra risk for your baby.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?

  • Long acting – it lasts for 3 to 5 years
  • Reversible – you can choose to have it taken out at any time. After that, you will be able to get pregnant again
  • 99% effective – it works very well
  • You don’t need to think about contraception every day

Studies show that implants do NOT cause any change in your weight, mood, sex drive, or give you headaches.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?

  • You might have irregular periods or periods that last longer. This is quite common in the first 6 months but it can last for the whole time (3 or 5 years). While it can be annoying, it’s not harmful and the implant will still work. If the bleeding is a problem, you can get pills to help.
  • You might have a sore or bruised arm after the implant is put in or taken out. There is a small risk of infection
  • Removing it can be hard. Sometimes it’s not easy for the nurse or doctor to find the implant and you might have to see someone else to take it out.

WHO CAN GET AN IMPLANT?

Almost anyone, at any age, can have an implant.

It is good if you forget pills, appointments for injections, or if you have a medical reason that stops you using the combined pill.

If you have had breast cancer or you are taking some medications, you should not get the contraceptive implant. Tell the nurse or doctor if you are taking regular medication.

DOES IT PROTECT ME FROM STIS? 

No, you need to use condoms and lubricant to protect yourself from sexually transmissible infections (STIs). If there is a chance you may have an STI, have a check-up.

HOW IS THE IMPLANT PUT IN AND TAKEN OUT?

  • You need to see someone who is trained to put in and take out implants, like a Family Planning nurse or your local doctor.
  • An injection is used to numb part of your arm, so you don’t feel anything when the implant is put in.
  • The rods are put under the skin and special plasters are used to hold the skin together until the skin heals.
  • The implant is taken out in the same way. It will leave a small scar.

How do I get an implant?

  1. Make an appointment at Family Planning. Tell the receptionist on the phone that you want the contraceptive implant/the rod.
  2. At your first appointment, the nurse will ask you some questions about yourself and your health, to check the implant is the right choice for you.
  3. Read the “Getting your implant” page so you feel ready for your next appointment. If you have any questions, write them down to ask the nurse.
  4. At your second appointment, the nurse will put the implant in your arm.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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