What you need to know about the implant
The contraceptive implant is a flexible rod about the size of a matchstick. It sits under the skin of your upper arm. It slowly releases a copy of the hormone progesterone.
It stops ovulation in most people, thickens the cervical mucus and thins the womb lining. It’s very effective for 3 years. The main side effect is that it changes bleeding patterns in 75% of people.
The contraceptive implant:
is highly effective – it’s one of the most effective methods to prevent pregnancy
is a long-term method that lasts for 3 years
is reversible, so when it’s removed, your fertility goes back to what’s normal for you
needs fitting by someone with specialist training
does not need to be remembered daily, or when you’re having sex
Our team says
Likelihood of getting pregnant over 1 year
The implant is over 99% effective. This means fewer than 1 out of 100 people using the implant will get pregnant in one year.
The implant is a good option if you...
want to use hormonal contraception and do not want the risks of a combined hormone method
want a contraceptive that you can get fitted and then forget about
want a long-lasting method of contraception
want to try a method that may help reduce the frequency and heaviness of your periods – about half of implant users will have less bleeding than they usually do
want to reduce symptoms of PMS
can’t take the combined pill because you get migraines with aura or you smoke and are over 35 years old
It’s not recommended for people who have…
current, or past history of, breast cancer – read more about health risks of the implant
irregular bleeding, unless you’ve already investigated the treatable causes of it
reduced liver function, because you need your liver to break down the hormones in the implant
a tendency to get scars that are larger and raised above the skin, called keloid scars, as the implant needs to be inserted through a small cut
The main side effect is irregular bleeding
The main side effect of the contraceptive implant is irregular bleeding. You may have:
frequent irregular bleeding
infrequent irregular bleeding
no bleeding at all
It’s difficult to predict how your bleeding pattern might change, as it’s different for everyone. Once you’ve had the implant for 3 months, though, the pattern of bleeding you’ve settled into is likely to stay similar for the next 3 years.
Irregular bleeding is one of the main reasons people change to a different method of contraception.
Can you see the implant?
You may be able to see your implant, and you should be able to feel it.
Real contraception experiences
Everything you wanted to know about sexual health and wellbeing - your questions answered by our expert team.