What is it?
A small (40mm), flexible tube containing progestogen (a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone). The implant is inserted under the skin of your upper arm by a trained professional. This can last for 3 years.
How does it work?
It slowly releases progestogen into your body. The main way the implant works is to stop the release of an egg from the ovary. It also thickens cervical mucus and thins the womb lining. This makes it harder for sperm to move through your cervix, and less likely for your womb to accept a fertilised egg.
How effective is it?
If used correctly it is over 99% effective. This means that less than one woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year.
- Once it's in place, you don't have to think about contraception for three years.
- It can be useful for women who cannot use contraception containing oestrogen.
- If you experience side effects, you can have it taken out.
Anything else to know about?
- You could experience some bruising, tenderness or swelling at first where the implant was inserted.
- For some women their periods may change, becoming lighter or heavier and longer.
- Some medicines or homeopathic remedies may reduce its effectiveness. Ask your doctor for more details, or contact Family Planning Units (see Useful links).
If you aren't in a monogamous (faithful) relationship you should help protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections by using condoms as well as the implant.