Hey there lovelies,
So I haven’t posted this week due to an awful sickness bug that really knocked me off my feet. Now I’m well again, I wanted to share my experience with the contraceptive implant.
I’ve had the implant for eight and a half years, it’s an easy, effective contraceptive that prevents unwanted pregnancies. However, I have recently had mine removed for several reasons and wanted to share my thoughts on the whole deal.
So let’s rewind to eight and a half years ago when I got my first contraceptive implant fitted. The brand back then was “Implanon”, it’s basically a tiny, thin rod about the size of a hair grip that is inserted by a trained nurse or doctor, under the skin in your arm. The implant releases hormones into your body that prevent you from getting pregnant. Once inserted that’s kind of it, you’re protected from pregnancy for three years and it’s a fab get-it-and-forget-it type of birth control. Three years later I had my implant out and a fresh one straight back in. Three years after that bad boy, another, newer version was popped in my arm, the Nexplanon – exactly the same as Implanon but now detectable with a ultrasound scan. Oooooohhhhh!
How the Implant is Inserted
The implant is placed in your arm by a fully trained healthcare provider just under the skin of your upper arm. Before the insertion, your arm is numbed with an anesthetic to make the process pain free. Once numb, using an applicator, the implant is inserted under the skin on the inside of your non dominant arm. It’s a quick and easy process that is over with in minutes and as your arm is numb, you cannot feel the applicator inserting the rod into your skin, just the unusual pulling sensation every now and again.
Once the implant is stuffed safely in your arm, adhesive strips are put over the insertion wound and covered over with a plaster. Your arm is then wrapped with a pressure bandage to keep the implant in place whilst the entry point heals.
You should 100% be able to feel it with your other hand, it shouldn’t be so deep that you can’t feel the implant easily.
The aftercare for your arm is simple, just leave the bandage on for 48 hours and the plaster can come off in 3 or 4 days. That’s it! Then you don’t have to think about it for three whole years!
Common Side Effects
The most common side effect of Nexplanon is a change in your normal menstrual bleeding pattern. Mine usually stopped all together for the first year and a half then I had one every other month until the end of the third year. However, everybody is different, you may have:
- Longer or shorter bleeding during your period
- No bleeding at all during the time of your period
- Spotting between your periods
- Varied amounts of time between your periods
Other side effects include:
- Mood swings, nervousness, or depressed mood
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Loss of libido
- Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina)
- Breast pain
- Viral infections such as sore throats or flu-like symptoms
- Stomach pain
- Painful periods
- Back pain
- Pain at the site of insertion
Ok, so I found the whole insertion experience pretty quick and mostly painless. After a few questions and a quick blood pressure check, I lay down on the bed and she began to talk me through what was to happen next. She had me lie down with my hand almost behind my head, so my inner upper arm was easily accessible. I felt the anesthetic needle go in, which was honestly the worst part of it all, but afterwards that’s about it.
The nurse explained everything that she was doing as she actually did it, so I didn’t freak out not knowing what was going on. When the applicator inserted the rod under my skin, I felt slight pressure and some strange pulling sensations, but nothing that actually hurt. That was it, it was in!
The next few days, my arm was very tender and lifting it above hip level was barely possible due to the dull constant ache. I did have to get my mumma to wash my hair over the bath for me!
The bruising was actually pretty impressive, it looked like I had fallen off a damn horse! My arm was still very tender for around seven days but afterwards, once the bruising vanished, I kind of forgot it was there. Other than when I purposely pressed my fingers over the rod – mainly to make sure it was still there, but I did have to try hard not to play around with it after the nurse advised me not to keep touching it and messing with it.
Out of all the side affects, I mainly suffered with frequent headaches, uncontrollable insane mood swings, extremely painful and lengthy periods (when I did finally get them) and you see in that list of side effects where it says “increased appetite” and “weight gain”?…
Well honey, it ain’t lyin’!
My appetite increased SO much. I went from being a very picky and infrequent eater, to stuffing my face with anything I could get my hands on. I got the biggest sweet tooth ever and as a result, I gained a whole stone over each three year period. Every damn time. Three implants = 3 stone increase!!
Lemme tell you, it’s not good, I do not feel myself anymore. I feel heavy, unattractive and very insecure. But it is literally uncontrollable! I have been on so many diets and starved myself so many times in the past eight years, yet barely shifted anything. I used to run and live off lettuce and it took me a whole TWO YEARS to lose a stone. ON CHICKEN SALADS AND RUNNING. Not even fancy salads, literally just plain chicken, plain leaves and a few slices of cucumber.
Here’s where your lack of libido, depression and mood swings kick in! No wonder it’s great at protecting you from pregnancy, in the off chance you actually want sex, you talk yourself out of it cos your chub is on show and you’ve started crying… I wish this was an exaggeration and not me actually reminiscing!!
I also suffered with awful cystic acne during my period, which I’d never had before having the implant inserted.
So with all this in mind, I got my third one out recently. As easy and simple as it was to get it put in and forget about it, I just want my body back. I want me back! I like being in control of my body and emotions, having a great day ruined by a wave of sadness or irritability for no reason really, honestly SUCKS.
So one more time, let’s go over the pros and cons…
- Effective – Fewer than 1 in 100 women using an implant will become pregnant each year
- Easy to use – You literally don’t have to even think about it
- Lasts three years – no worry, stress or hassle about pregnancy for three whole years
- Fast reversal – If you want to get pregnant, you can get started on that right after you get the implant removed
- Less painful/frequent periods – some people experience less painful periods or no period for some amount of time
- Irregular periods – some people experience heavier or irregular periods (my last one lasted 19 days!)
- No protection against STI’s – you still gotta wrap it up if you are worried/have an STI
- Weight gain – where’s this second chin come from?
- Mood swings – guess which personality you’ll meet today!
- Lots of other possible side effects – see list above!
I wrote this with the intention to help a sister out, so for anyone who is considering the contraceptive implant and is unsure, I hope this was informative enough for you to use! Just remember that everybody is different, so you may have completely different or even no side effects (lucky buggers!), but I wanted to share my experience anyway.
Have you ever used the contraceptive Implant before? What is your opinion on it?
If you have any questions about my experience, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below! I am by no means a health care provider, but if I can help I will!
See you in the next post!
Love Charlie x