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The beginning.

I have decided after many months of deliberating, to go on the contraceptive implant, Nexplanon. I’ve made an appointment to have this done next month and am optimistic about the experience.

I decided to open a blog about this as there is very little in the way of positive information available to young (and older) women about the implant, save for a few articles regarding earlier problems with Implanon. This blog is a forum for me to talk about my experience in the hope that those who read it may be able to gather some useful information to inform their own decisions and choices. There are some excellent communities such as http://vaginapagina.livejournal.com/ that are available to peruse and have an extensive archive, but as the uptake of the implant in the UK is relatively low (something like 2-3% at last statistic read) I felt there was arguably a void to fill.

I won’t be discussing sexual exploits, nor will I be divulging any personal information pertaining to my own life. I want to look objectively at my experience from a medical perspective, and chronicle it in the public domain. As a professional researcher I like to think that I have an ability to collect and assess information and make it useful to other people. I welcome all feedback and gratefully accept any stories you may have of your own experiences, positive and negative.

I am a 25 year old student who has been on Microgynon 30 for 8 years now. I have had no real problems with the Pill, but as an anxious and uptight person I find myself obsessing over articles relating to the efficacy of the Pill. Small incidents such as an upset stomach or slightly delayed pill-taking can lead me to worry unnecessarily and excessively, rendering me unable to solely rely on the Pill as a contraceptive. I would recommend the Pill wholeheartedly, however for me, it isn’t the most viable option. My reasons for deciding to move to Nexplanon can be summarised as follows

  • Efficacy

Recent research was done into Implanon, following the reports of women falling pregnant whilst on the implant, http://bit.ly/NpgHNK. I have looked closely into this matter and have drawn some conclusions, largely summarised in this useful blog article http://bit.ly/RVl7zq.

If we take the facts at face ‘scare’ value, and agree that 584 women did get pregnant solely through the failure of Implanon, that is unfortunate and most distressing for the women concerned, but relatively speaking over the time frame of the investigation, still minimal, resting at over 99% efficacy. As the article states, the reality was 13 pregnancies, giving a 0.064% chance of failure. More recent research, since the release of the rebranded Nexplanon has suggested as good as no pregnancies have been reported.

Furthermore, the other contributing factors to failure such as poor insertion, ‘lost’ implants and implants simply not being put in at all have been tackled. The new Nexplanon inserter is much closer to a stapler than, as my partner put it, ‘the thing we used to chip the cat’, and leaves very little room for error:

Other factors such as stomach upsets and vomiting don’t affect Nexplanon as it is subdermal. Some medications do, but I am fortunate enough not to need to take any of those listed (‘This includes drugs used to treat epilepsy, some antibiotics, treatments for tuberculosis and the herbal remedy St. John’s Wort.’ from nexplanon.co.uk).

Given my worries about the Pill and human error, I feel Nexplanon is definitely worth a try.

  • Longevity

Three years is a long time – realistically, being a bit overweight and a bit paranoid, I am expecting my implant to last for around 2 years, all being well. Nonetheless, the thought of two solid years of protection with no additional precautions necessary is appealing after years of being a slave to pill packets. I’m currently on a medication detox for another condition, and the psychological appeal of a life without medication/pills is appealing.

  • Hormonal

My key worry when assessing my contraceptive choices was ‘rocking the boat’. I remember vividly the discomfort and mood swings I felt when I went on Microgynon 30 as a teenager. Although it settled it did take time and was for a while very disconcerting. Though many reports of Implanon seem to focus on mood swings, having spoken with my GP this morning she has assured me that Nexplanon offers the lowest overall hormone release of any Hormonal Birth Control and should, in this case, impact less upon mental wellbeing.

There are of course, negatives. The key offender is the bleeding and the GP was upfront about the realistic chance of erratic menstruation for the first three months. Any longer than six, and removal is recommended but Microgynon can be taken to regulate periods if such an occasion arose (holiday, Olympic swim training and so forth) and by and large, it does settle to a happy period-free existence, with the occasional bleed. I have an emotional reliance on my periods but of late this hasn’t been enough to reassure me – realistically the extra reassurance given by the improved efficacy rate is more attractive and the thought of an eventual lack of periods does appeal. I think this will be the hardest aspect to adjust to, having bled regularly since my early adolescence, however given my recent life changes in terms of medication and I am open to trying.

I am to arrange an appointment for an implant insertion in the week beginning the 10th of September. The next clinic is on the 24th of August but as I am away for a week, I feel it’s best to leave any bleeding until my return. The GP and nurses in the surgery have spoken highly of the nurse who deals with insertion and I feel optimistic that it should be a relatively quick procedure, allowing for my terrible discomfort with needles.

I shall return once the deed is done!

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About LR

Modernist medievalist, currying favour with academia through loose-leaf tea and a lust for stationery. Fond of vintage, horror, Sherlock Holmes, cats, cold beer and photography. Politically left, arguably feminist, disillusioned and disgruntled with the state of it all.

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