Contraceptive Implant

A contraceptive implant is a small plastic rod that is placed under the skin in the upper arm. This needs to be done by a doctor or nurse under local anaesthetic.

It prevents pregnancy by releasing progesterone into the bloodstream, and lasts for 3 years.  

Like all contraceptive methods other than condoms, the contraceptive implant does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

A  contraceptive implant is a small flexible plastic tube which is inserted under the skin of the upper arm under local anaesthetic, it slowly releases the hormone progesterone which prevents pregnancy in a number of ways.

  • It prevents the woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs
  • It thickens the mucus in the neck of the womb which prevents sperm getting to the egg
  • It makes the lining of the womb thinner, making it harder for a fertilised egg from implanting itself into the womb

The contraceptive implant is over 99% effective, meaning less than 1 in every 100 women who use the contraceptive implant became pregnant over a 1 year period.

If the contraceptive implant is fitted during the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle then you will be immediately protected against becoming pregnant. If fitted on any other day then you will need to arrange for additional contraception for 1 week from the day it was fitted.

Some medicines can make the contraceptive implant less effective, such as:

  • St John’s Wort
  • Some antibiotics
  • Medicines for HIV, tuberculosis and epilepsy

Ask your doctor if any medicine you are taking could be a problem, you may want to use a different kind of contraception or to use condoms as well as the implant.

You can have a contraceptive implant fitted at any time during your menstrual cycle, as long as you are not pregnant.

You should visit your doctors surgery or sexual health clinic and ask about having a contraceptive implant fitted. You can find your nearest sexual health clinic here.

  • Works for 3 years
  • May reduce heavy and painful periods
  • You don’t need to remember to use contraception for 3 years
  • Can be inserted at any time during the menstrual cycle as long as you are not pregnant
  • Can be taken out at any time (by a doctor or nurse)
  • Does not interrupt sex
  • Can be used if breastfeeding
  • You can get pregnant straight away after it is removed
  • May experience bruising, swelling or tenderness around the implant when first put in
  • Periods can become irregular, heavier, lighter, last longer or even stop completely
  • Some medicines may make the implant less effective
  • May experience breast tenderness, and headaches after having the contraceptive implant fitted
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • May experience acne having the contraceptive implant fitted