12 Implant Birth Control Pros and Cons

Implant birth control is a small, long-term solution to prevent a pregnancy which eliminates the need to take a daily pill. The implant is a small, thin rod that is equivalent to the size of a matchstick. Once placed properly, the implant will release hormones into the body that can protect against a pregnancy for up to for years.

Unlike other types of long-term birth control, the implant is inserted into the arm. Once placed, it will release progestin to prevent a pregnancy. The hormones thicken the mucus within the cervix, which prevents sperm from meeting up with an egg. For some women, the implant may even prevent eggs from leaving the ovaries.

It is important to remember that this method is not a permanent form of birth control. Some women may not even achieve 4 full years of protection. That is why evaluating these key pros and cons of implant birth control is time worth taking.

List of the Pros of Implant Birth Control

1. It provides an alternative to estrogen-based birth control.
Some women should not be taking a birth control method that is based on estrogen. Women who have had a deep-vein thrombosis diagnosis, have a history of blood clots, or have a pulmonary embolism should not take a birth control product that contains estrogen. Women with high blood pressure that is not controlled, have a history of smoking, or have regular migraine headaches with an aura should talk with their doctor about the benefits of taking an implant birth control method instead.

2. It may create an absence of the period.
Some women experience an absence of their period after receiving an implant form of birth control. Other women may experience lighter periods or periods that are less painful. Every woman’s experience with implant birth control is a little different.

3. It is a very effective form of birth control.
No form of birth control has been measured to be 100% effective at preventing a pregnancy for a woman who is sexually active. The implant birth control method, however, has been measured to be more than 99% effective. Fewer than 1 woman out of 11 become pregnant when using an implant which contains Nexplanon. The effectiveness rating is so high because there are fewer things that can go wrong with this birth control option. Once it is placed in the arm, it works to prevent pregnancies from occurring.

4. It can be administered by anyone trained in how to do it.
The implant birth control method is available at a variety of locations throughout most communities. Any doctor or nurse who is familiar with the product can provide this service. If you’re unsure of who might be able to provide this implant, then contact your local family planning center. Talk to your gynecologist. You can also talk to an independent facility, such as Planned Parenthood.

5. It is a procedure that provides relatively little discomfort.
When the implant is first inserted into the arm, a stinging or pinching feeling is the most common complaint. Some women feel only pressure on their arm because the area is usually numbed before the insertion of the implant occurs. Many women experience discomfort for a few days after the procedure when their pain medication wears off. Some women may also experience tenderness, redness, or swelling at the implant site for 7-14 days after the procedure.

6. It is possible to have sex right away after the procedure.
There is not a waiting time before having sex with this form of birth control. Some women, however, may need to use additional forms of birth control to reduce the risk of pregnancy in the first week after receiving the implant. Not every woman is immediately protected from pregnancy after their first doses of progestin.

7. It is safe to use during breastfeeding.
Women can use this form of birth control while they are breastfeeding. It does not usually affect the amount of milk that can be produced by new mothers. It does not harm the baby either. For women who have recently had a child and do not want to get pregnant again right away, the implant is one of the safest and most effective forms of birth control that is available right now.

List of the Cons of Implant Birth Control

1. It still causes side effects that can be uncomfortable for some women.
The most common side effect of an implant birth control method that includes progestin is irregular bleeding. Some women may experience bleeding between each period or irregular spotting throughout the cycle. Weight gain, nausea, headaches, and tenderness within the breast are also possible.

2. It may lead to bone loss.
The long-term use of progestin products is linked to bone loss in women if the birth control is used for at least one full cycle. The bone loss is reversible for most women. Some of the effects of bone loss can be negated by having sufficient levels of Vitamin D and calcium while using the implant birth control product.

3. It must be maintained by a trained medical provider.
Because the implant is directly inserted into the upper arm, the procedure must be completed at the offices of a qualified medical provider. Although the costs of birth control are usually covered by health insurance, there are some policies or providers who may object to the procedure. The costs of implant birth control are very competitive. Called Nexplanon, the insertion cost can be up to $1,300, while the removal cost can be up to $300. There are several financial assistance programs available for women who may not be able to afford their birth control as well.

4. It does not protect against STDs.
Like almost any form of birth control, the implant does not protect against sexually-transmitted diseases. Women who are sexually active will need to use other products and safe-sex practices to lower their risk of obtaining an STD during intimate contact with a partner.

5. It may cause protection delays for some women.
Women who receive their implant birth control during their first 5 days of a period are protected against a pregnancy right away. For women who receive the implant at any other time during their cycle, however, another form of birth control must be used for at least the first 7 days after receiving the implant. It only becomes a “get it and then forget it” birth control option after meeting that stipulation.

The implant birth control pros and cons presented here are generalized advantages and disadvantages to consider. Choosing a birth control option is a very personal choice. It must be made with your doctor, who will take your complete medical history and lifestyle choices into consideration. For many women, an implant is an easy way to prevent a pregnancy. It may not, however, be right for all women.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.