Family Health Guide

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Birth Control: Implant

It seems like something out of a science fiction movie, but a flexible, matchstick-sized rod inserted under the skin of your upper arm can protect against unwanted pregnancies for 3 years. The device, marketed as Implanon (currently there's no generic) releases progestin and is a good choice for women who have health issues that prevent them for using an estrogen-based contraceptives (smokers, complications from diabetes, high blood pressure or migraines with auras for which estrogen can increase the risk of blood clots, leading to a heart attack or stroke) as well as for breastfeeding moms since estrogen can reduce milk supply. It works by preventing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus and thinning the lining of the uterus. The implant is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Most women can get pregnant soon after the device is removed.

It's inserted and removed in your doctor's office in a few minutes using only local anesthesia. The most common side effect is irregular menstrual bleeding. After the first year of use and 1 out of 3 women stop getting a period all together. In rare cases some women report experiencing mood changes and dizziness.