implant - contraceptionThe implant is a small, flexible plastic tube that sits under the skin of your upper arm and releases the progestogen hormone. It is long-acting and reversible, so you can take it out if you want to get pregnant. It is implanted under the skin of your upper arm by a doctor or nurse. A local anaesthetic is used to numb the area. The small wound made in your arm is closed with a dressing and does not need stitches.
The implant stops the release of an egg from the ovary by slowly releasing progestogen into your body. Progestogen also thickens the cervical mucus and thins the womb lining. This makes it harder for sperm to move through your cervix, and less likely for your womb to accept a fertilised egg.
It is the fourth most popular method of contraception in the UK, and more common amongst women under the age of 35.



Lasts for

3 years

Effect on period


Side effects



  • It works for three years
  • The implant does not interrupt sex
  • It is an option if you cannot use oestrogen-based contraception, such as the combined contraceptive pill, contraceptive patch or vaginal ring
  • You do not have to remember to take a pill every day
  • It is safe to use while you are breastfeeding
  • Your fertility should return to normal as soon as the implant is removed
  • Implants offer some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease (the mucus from the cervix may stop bacteria entering the womb) and may also give some protection against cancer of the womb
  • It may reduce heavy periods or painful periods after the first year of use
  • After the contraceptive implant has been inserted, you should be able to carry out normal activities.


  • Disrupted periods. Your periods may change significantly while using a contraceptive implant. Around 20% of women using the implant will have no bleeding, and almost 50% will have infrequent or prolonged bleeding.
  • Bleeding patterns are likely to remain irregular, although they may settle down after the first year. Your GP may be able to help by providing additional medication if you have prolonged bleeding
  • Temporary side effects may include headaches, acne, nausea, breast tenderness, changes in mood and loss of sex drive. These side effects usually stop after the first few months
  • Some women put on weight while using the implant, but there is no evidence to show that the implant causes weight gain
  • A small procedure is required to fit an implant
  • Rarely, following insertion or removal, the area of skin where the implant has been fitted can become infected.

How effective is it?

The implant is over 99% effective. This means that fewer than 1 in 1000 women who use it will fall pregnant over the 3 years.

What makes it less effective?

  • Some prescription and complementary medicines
  • It will not be effective after 3 years.

For more information visit the FPA website.