The contraceptive implant is a method of birth control that stays in the upper arm for three years – perfect for those who don’t want to have to remember to take a daily pill.
But how effective is it, and can you still get pregnant on the implant?
What is the contraceptive implant?
The plastic device is about the size of a matchstick. The implant is a highly effective method of birth control with side effects that include tender breasts, a change in the menstrual cycle and weight gain.
How does the contraceptive implant work?
The implant contraceptive works by slowly releasing a hormone called progestogen into your bloodstream which stops you from releasing an egg each month.
Nexplanon will also thicken the mucus in your cervix, making it much more difficult for sperm to travel, and also thin the lining of your womb making it harder for a fertilised egg to implant. This makes this implant birth control 99% effective according to the NHS.
When does the contraceptive implant start working to protect against pregnancy?
The implant can be inserted any time during your menstrual cycle, but you will not be immediately protected against pregnancy. If this hormonal implant is inserted at the beginning of your menstrual cycle (the first five days) then you won’t get pregnant on the implant.
If the contraceptive implant is fitted on any other day of your menstrual cycle then you will need to ensure that you use another method of contraception such as condoms.
When does the contraceptive implant start working after giving birth?
After giving birth you are able to have the implant fitted any time before 21 days post birth and be protected against pregnancy. If the implant is fitted after 21 days post birth, you will need to ensure that you use another method of contraception such as condoms.
Can you get pregnant on the implant?
It is very rare that you will get pregnant on the contraceptive implant. As this birth control is more than 99% effective, it means that less than 1 user would become pregnant out of 100. As Nexplanon stops ovulation this means that there is also no egg to fertilise.
If I am being prescribed certain medications, can I get pregnant on the implant?
There are certain medications that will make the contraceptive implant less effective. This includes some HIV, epilepsy and tuberculosis medication, St John’s Wort and certain antibiotics such as rifabutin or rifampicin.
We recommend having a conversation with your doctor to ensure that any medication you are taking will not affect the effectiveness of your implant. If your medication does affect this birth control then we would recommend looking for another method of contraception that isn’t affected by your medication.
Can you get pregnant on Nexplanon if it has expired?
Nexplanon can be used for three years, at which point it will need to be replaced to maintain its effectiveness. This is because after three years the hormone supply runs out, so it is no longer effective as birth control. Therefore if you continue to use it after three years then there is a greater chance of pregnancy. We recommend contacting your GP to discuss the replacement of your contraceptive implant.
How will I know if I’m pregnant on the implant?
On the rare chance that you may become pregnant on the implant, it is recommended that you look out for certain signs. Looking out for a change in your period is not a good indicator of pregnancy as one of the greatest side effects of Nexplanon is changes in the menstrual cycle. You may experience tiredness, nausea and tender breasts. If you are concerned you may be pregnant, we recommend taking a pregnancy test or contacting your GP.
Can you get pregnant on the implant when taking antibiotics?
Most antibiotics are completely safe to take with the contraceptive implant and will not affect this birth control. But there are certain antibiotics such as Rifabutin or Rifampicin that may make the implant less effective. Ask your GP for advice about this contraceptive.
Can the contraceptive implant cause infertility?
Implants will not affect a woman’s fertility. As soon as the implant is removed fertility will return.
Can I get pregnant after implant removal?
Once the contraceptive implant is removed your fertility will return to normal and you are able to get pregnant. If you would like to learn more about implant removal, then check out our full guide on contraceptive implant fitting and removal.
What happens if I get pregnant on the implant?
If you become pregnant whilst using the contraceptive implant then you must contact your doctor immediately. If you become pregnant whilst on Nexplanon, then you have a slightly higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy. If you experience unusual vaginal bleeding or lower stomach pain then you must call your doctor immediately.
If you’re looking for further information on this form of contraception, then our blog on ‘the contraceptive implant – everything you need to know’ covers fitting and removal plus pros and cons of this method of birth control.