The contraceptive implant is a good method for women who want a long term, reversible, convenient contraceptive, as each implant lasts up to three years (although it can be removed at any time). For this reason, the implant is a very cost effective method of contraception.
The insertion of the contraceptive implant is a minor surgical procedure requiring the use of local anaesthetic. It needs to be inserted by a fully trained doctor, who will firstly discuss and assess the suitability of the implant for you (including the advantages and disadvantages). Following the initial consultation and your consent, the doctor will inject a small amount of local anaesthetic under the skin on the inside of your upper arm. When the anaesthetic has taken effect, the doctor will insert the contraceptive implant just under the skin in your arm using a sterile disposable applicator. A dressing will then be applied which should be left in place for 24 hours. This process should only take a few minutes.
You should ensure your doctor shows you how to gently feel for the implant following insertion. This is important so it can be easily located at the time of removal. If you cannot feel the implant at any time you should inform your doctor immediately and use a backup method of contraception until the presence of the rod can be confirmed. Some bruising, soreness or discomfort around the implant may occur which can last up to a week following the insertion. Some itchiness over the implant may also occur, and should pass within two weeks. It is recommended to avoid scratching the skin.
If the contraceptive implant is inserted within the first five days of the menstrual cycle (where day one is the first day of your period), then it is effective immediately. If it is inserted at another time during your menstrual cycle, another form of contraception (such as condoms) should be used for the next seven days to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Your doctor will discuss with you the best time to have the implant inserted, as they firstly need to ensure you are not already pregnant.