Implant Contraception Overview

Implants consist of little plastic rods containing hormones, released over a set time frame to prevent ovulation and pregnancy. They are inserted under the skin of the arm, slightly above the elbow. Read more in this implant contraception patient education guide.

Etonorgestrel is a progestogen type hormone within the rod. In addition, barium has been added to enable rod location through X-ray imaging and sonography.

The hormones that are released deter pregnancies by:

  • Thinning of the endometrium (uterine lining) to stop fertilized egg implantation
  • Thickening of cervical mucus to deter sperm from entering


Insertion and Removal Techniques

Local anesthetic is injected into the skin of the arm, and using a special needle designed for the implant, the tiny rod is pushed into place. Typically the left arm is used and the designated site is the inner part of the left arm, approximately 4-5 inches above the elbow. Most doctors like to insert the rods in the first five days after a period starts.

Implant removal is done by infiltrating the area with local anesthetic and then making a small incision through which the implant is grasped and withdrawn.


Side effects

Adverse reactions from contraceptive implant insertion includes:

  • Redness or soreness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Possible increase in thrombosis (clots)



Contraceptive implants provide many advantages including:

  • Efficacy is 99.9%
  • Can be inserted 3 weeks after delivering a baby
  • Can be inserted after dilatation and curettage for abortions or miscarriages
  • Does not interfere with breastfeeding
  • Allows for spontaneity of intimacy


Written by Barbara Hales, MD 

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