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Nexplanon is a hormone-releasing birth control implant for use by women to prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years. Nexplanon is a soft, flexible rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm.  It is a progestin-only method of birth control and does not contain any estrogen. Nexplanon is a long term contraception method and is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Nexplanon contains the active ingredient Etonogestrel, which is a progestin hormone. It is released continuously into the bloodstream from the implant. This hormone prevents pregnancy in a few different ways, the most important way is by preventing ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovary. It also thins out the uterine lining and increases the thickness of the mucus in the cervix, making it more difficult for sperm to cross from the vagina into the womb. The implant must be changed every 3 years.

Nexplanon, when inserted correctly is over 99% effective. That’s less than one pregnancy per 100 women who use Nexplanon for one year. It is not known if Nexplanon is as effective in very overweight women, because clinical studies did not include many overweight women. Certain medicines may make Nexplanon less effective, it’s recommended to use an additional barrier method of contraception while using these medicines. Nexplanon does not protect against sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

Your doctor will insert and/or remove Nexplanon in a minor surgical procedure here in the office. It will be inserted just under the skin on the inner side of your upper arm. The timing of the insertion is important, depending on your history the doctor may ask you to have a pregnancy test before insertion and/or schedule the insertion of the implant at a specific time of your menstrual cycle. For the procedure your arm is cleansed and then numbed with a small injection. Nexplanon is placed just underneath the skin using a small needle introducer. Your practitioner will have you feel Nexplanon by pressing your fingertips over the skin where it was placed. Your arm is then wrapped in gauze. The bandage should be removed after 24 hours.

The most common side effect of Nexplanon is a change in your normal menstrual bleeding pattern.  Some women will notice shorter or longer bleeding, lighter or heavier bleeding.  Some women may have bleeding or spotting between periods and some women will have no bleeding at all. Other common side effects include mood swings, weight gain, headache, depression, acne, vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina), breast pain and pain at the site of the insertion.

Women have experienced complications with insertion and removal of Nexplanon. Though rare, Nexplanon may not inserted at all due to a failed insertion or if the implant has fallen out of the needle. If this happens, you may become pregnant. After insertion, you should be able to feel the implant under your skin. If you can’t feel it tell your doctor immediately. Other problems related to insertion include; pain, irritation, swelling or bruising, Scarring which includes a thick scar called a Keloid, Infection, Nexplanon may break making it very difficult to remove and Expulsion of the implant which occurs rarely.

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