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Health Information For Parents
Implantable contraception (often called the birth control implant) is a small, flexible plastic tube that doctors insert just under the skin of a girl’s upper arm. The tube slowly releases hormones that can help protect against pregnancy for up to 3 years.
The implanted tube slowly releases low levels of the hormone progestin to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). If a girl doesn’t ovulate, she cannot become pregnant because there is no egg to be fertilized.
The released progestin also thickens the mucus around the cervix. This helps prevent sperm from entering the uterus. The progestin also thins the lining of the uterus so that if the egg is fertilized, it may be less likely to attach to the wall of the uterus.
Implantable contraception is a very effective method of birth control. Over the course of 1 year, fewer than 1 out of 100 typical couples using the implant will have an accidental pregnancy. The chance of getting pregnant will increase if a girl waits longer than 3 years to replace the tube. So it’s important to keep a record of when a tube was inserted, and get a new contraceptive implant on schedule or have the old tube removed and switch to another method of birth control.
In general, how well each birth control method works depends on a lot of things. These include whether a person has any health conditions or is taking any medicines or herbal supplements that might interfere with its use (for example, some antibiotics or an herb like St. John’s wort can affect how well implantable contraception works).
No. Implantable contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Couples having sex must always use condoms along with the implant to protect against STDs.
Women who get contraceptive implants might notice such side effects as:
Some of these side effects may improve with time.
Sometimes there can be irritation, infection, or scarring where the tube was placed.
Implantable contraception increases the risk of blood clots. Blood clots can lead to serious problems with the lungs, heart, and brain. Smoking cigarettes while using the implant can increase the risk of blood clots. So young women who use this type of birth control should not smoke.
Young women who want long-term protection against pregnancy may be interested in implantable contraception.
Not all women can — or should — use the implant. In some cases, health conditions make it less effective or more risky to use. For example, the implant is not recommended for women who have had blood clots, liver disease, unexplained vaginal bleeding, or some types of cancer.
Girls who have diabetes, migraine headaches, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gallbladder problems, seizures, kidney disease, or other medical problems should talk with their doctor.
Anyone who thinks she might be pregnant should not have a contraceptive implant inserted.
Implantable contraception is only available from a doctor or other medical professional who has been trained in how to insert it. When the doctor can insert the implant depends on when a girl had her last period and what type of birth control she currently uses.
After numbing the inside of the upper arm, the doctor will use a small needle to insert the tube just under the surface. The whole process only takes a few minutes. After the tube is put in, a girl shouldn’t do any heavy lifting for a few days. She will have a bandage on for a few days after the procedure.
A health care professional must remove the tube after 3 years — it cannot be left in a girl’s arm, even after it is no longer working. The area is numbed, then a small cut in the arm is made and the health care professional pulls out the tube. The tube can be removed any time after insertion — there’s no need to wait the full 3 years.
The cost of implantable contraception varies widely based on location and insurance coverage. It can range from $0 to more than $1,000. There also may be a charge for a doctor to remove the tube.
Someone using implantable contraception should call the doctor if she:
Talking to your kids about sex can be a challenge. But discussing issues like birth control can help lower teens’ risk of unintended pregnancy or getting an STD.
Big physical and emotional changes happen during puberty and the teen years. These articles can help you become a source of information, comfort, and support for your kids.
Learning about the female reproductive system, what it does, and the problems that can affect it can help you better understand your daughter’s reproductive health.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.
Some birth control methods work better than others. This chart compares how well different birth control methods work.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Find out what implantable contraception is, how well it works, and more.
Abstinence is the only form of birth control that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Abstinence also protects people against STDs.
You’ve probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.
Answering kids’ questions about sex is a responsibility many parents dread. But by answering these questions honestly, parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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