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What is a birth control implant?
A birth control implant is a type of hormonal birth control. In the United States, it’s sold under the brand name Nexplanon. It was previously available under the name Implanon. It releases progestin hormone into the body to prevent pregnancy.
The implant itself is a very small plastic rod about the size of a matchstick. A doctor or other healthcare professional inserts it into the upper arm, right under the skin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 1 out of every 100 people using the implant became pregnant.
The Guttmacher Institute reports that over 1.4 million people in the United States use a birth control implant.
*Effectiveness. It’s one of the most effective birth control methods available.
*Longevity. Once inserted, the implant lasts 3 years before needing to be replaced.
*Convenience. No pre-sex prep or reminders.
*Cost effective. It can be a bit costly upfront, but there are no costs beyond that for 3 years.
*Better periods. It can improve cramps, make periods lighter, or stop them entirely for some.
*Reversible. You can remove it at any time and your fertility will return as soon as it’s removed.
*No estrogen. It’s safe for people who can’t use birth control that contains estrogen.
It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).Insertion requires a visit to a healthcare professional. The device must be removed after 3 years. Though rare, the implant can migrate from the insertion site, making it difficult for a clinician to find and remove.
How effective is a birth control implant?
At over 99 percent effective, the birth control implant is one of the most effective birth control methods available.
How does a birth control implant work?
The implant slowly releases a progestin hormone called etonogestrel into the body. Progestin helps prevent pregnancy by blocking the release of eggs from the ovaries. It also thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
If you get the implant during the first 5 days of your period, it’s immediately effective against pregnancy. If the implant is inserted at any other point, you should use a backup form of birth control, such as condoms, for seven days.
Do birth control implants help prevent STIs?
Nope, birth control implants don’t prevent STIs — just pregnancy.
Barrier methods like condoms help protect against STIs. You can always use a barrier in addition to the implant so you’re protected against both pregnancy and STIs.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t use a birth control implant?
Yes. You shouldn’t use a birth control implant if you:
*are pregnant or think you might behave a history of serious blood clots, such as blood clots in your legs or lungs
*have had a heart attack or stroke
*have a history of breast cancer or any other progestin-sensitive cancer
*have unexplained vaginal bleeding
*are allergic to any of the ingredients or materials in the implant
*smoke cigarrettes
Before using an implant, you should also let a healthcare professional know if you have:
*high blood pressure
*gallbladder or kidney conditions
*liver disease
*a history of depression
*high cholesterol
*an allergy to anesthetics or antiseptics

How effective are birth control implants compared to other long-term options?

Some people experience side effects from the implant, but many people don’t.
*Irregular menstrual bleeding is the most common side effect.
*Periods may also become lighter, heavier, or stop altogether.
Other side effects can include:
*breast pain
*weight gain
*ovarian cysts
*infection where the implant was inserted
Side effects usually go away after a few months and are rarely serious.

Serious complications with the birth control implant are rare, but it’s still important to know about the potential risks:
*Improper insertion, which can lead to the implant making its way into a blood vessel.
*Injury to nerves or blood vessels if the implant breaks.
*Increased risk of serious blood clots.

When should a birth control implant be taken out?
Birth control implants must be removed after three years. They can also be removed earlier if you wish. You have to make an appointment with a healthcare professional to have the implant removed.
Although many people who get an implant don’t experience any complications, it’s a good idea to know what signs could signal a problem.
Consult with a healthcare professional right away if you:
*think you might be pregnant
*develop pain in your lower leg that doesn’t go away
*begin to feel sad or depressed
*experience heavy menstrual bleeding
*can’t feel the implant or feel that the implant has bent or broken in your arm
*feel a lump in your breast
*notice the yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes
Go to the nearest Clinic if you have any of the following symptoms, which could indicate a serious complication or allergic reaction:
*severe chest pain or heaviness
*sudden shortness of breath
*coughing up blood
*swollen face, tongue, or throat
*trouble breathing or swallowing a sudden, severe headache that’s not like your usual headaches
*weakness or numbness in your arm or leg
*trouble speaking
*severe abdominal pain

The oral contraceptive pill is a hormonal method of preventing pregnancy. Side effects are common, and they vary from person to person.
The pill is a type of birth control. It works by preventing the body from producing an egg, which means that there is nothing for sperm to fertilize, and pregnancy cannot occur.
Birth control pills can also help with irregular, painful, or heavy periods, endometriosis, acne, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The specific side effects vary widely among individuals, and different pills cause different side effects.
Some common side effects include:
*breast tenderness
There are two main types of birth control pill. Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin, which is a synthetic form of the natural hormone progesterone, while the mini pill contains progestin only.

Birth control pills affect a person’s hormone levels, leading to various side effects. These effects usually resolve within 2–3 months, but they can persist.

1. Spotting between periods
Breakthrough bleeding, or spotting, refers to when vaginal bleeding occurs between menstrual cycles. It may look like light bleeding or brown discharge.
Spotting is the most common side effect of birth control pills. It happens because the body is adjusting to changing levels of hormones, and the uterus is adjusting to having a thinner lining.
Taking the pill as prescribed, usually every day and at the same time each day, can help prevent bleeding between periods.
2. Nausea
Some people experience mild nausea when first taking the pill, but this usually subsides. Taking the pill with food or at bedtime may help.
Birth control should not make people feel sick all the time. If the nausea is severe or lasts for a few months, it is best to talk to a healthcare provider.
3. Breast tenderness
Taking birth control pills often causes the breasts to feel tender, especially soon after a person starts taking them. Wearing a supportive bra can help reduce breast tenderness.
Along with increased breast sensitivity, the hormones in the pill can make the breasts grow bigger.
4. Headaches and migraine
The hormones in birth control pills can cause or increase the frequency of headaches and migraine.
Changes in the female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) can trigger migraine. Symptoms can depend on the dosage and type of pill. For example, low dose pills are less likely to cause this symptom.
On the other hand, if a person’s migraine is associated with PMS, taking the pill may actually reduce their symptoms.
5. Weight gain
Birth control pills often list weight gain as a possible side effect, though research has not yet confirmed this.
In theory, birth control pills could lead to increases in fluid retention or water weight. They could also lead to increases in fat or muscle mass. However, some people may instead report weight loss when taking the pill.
6. Mood changes
Hormones play an important role in a person’s mood and emotions. Changes in hormone levels, which taking the pill may cause, can affect a person’s mood.
If a person is concerned about mood changes, they can talk to their healthcare provider. If the symptoms are linked to taking the pill, changing pills may help.
7. Missed periods
Taking birth control pills can cause very light periods or missed periods. This is because of the hormones they contain.
Depending on the type of birth control, people can use the pill to safely skip a period.
If a person suspects that they may be pregnant, it is best to take a pregnancy test. The birth control pill is very effective, but pregnancies can occur — especially with improper use.
Many factors can cause a late or missed period, including:
*hormonal problems
*thyroid problems
8. Decreased libido
The pill can affect sex drive, or libido, in some people. This is due to hormonal changes.
Other people might experience an increased libido by, for example, removing any concerns they may have had about pregnancy and easing any symptoms of PMS.
9. Vaginal discharge
Changes in vaginal discharge may occur when taking the pill. This may be an increase or a decrease in vaginal lubrication or a change in the nature of the discharge.
If the pill causes vaginal dryness and a person wants to engage in sexual activity, using lubrication can help make this more comfortable.
These changes are not usually harmful, but alterations in color or odor could point to an infection.
10. Eye changes
Some research has linked hormonal changes due to the pill with a thickening of the cornea in the eyes. This does not suggest a higher risk of eye disease, but it may mean that contact lenses no longer fit comfortably.
People who wear contact lenses can talk to their ophthalmologist if they notice any changes in their vision or lens tolerance.
According to the Office on Women’s Health there is evidence to suggest that taking birth control pills may raise a person’s risk of: blood clots and high blood pressure, or hypertension. This can lead to heart attack or stroke.
If a blood clot enters the lungs, it can cause serious damage or death. These side effects are serious but rare.
Some research suggests that birth control increases the risk of some forms of cancer and decreases the risk of others.
The pill may not be safe for people who:
*have untreated hypertension
*smoke and are over the age of 35 years
*have a history of heart disease
*have migraine with aura
*have a history of breast cancer or endometrial cancer
A person should see a healthcare provider if the following symptoms occur, as these may indicate a serious health concern:
*severe abdominal pain
*chest pain,
*shortness of breath, or both
*severe headaches
*eye problems, such as blurred vision or a loss of vision
*swelling or aching in the legs and thighs
Long-term effects
Birth control pills are safe for most females to use long-term or indefinitely.
However, usage can increase the long-term risk of certain health problems. The following sections will look at these potential effects in more detail.
Cardiovascular problems
Combination pills can slightly increase the risk of serious cardiovascular problems, such as:
*heart attack,
*blood clots.
The risk is higher with certain pills. A healthcare provider can advise on suitable options.
Anyone who has uncontrolled high blood pressure or a personal or family history of cardiovascular problems should ask their healthcare provider about alternative methods of contraception.
The natural female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) affect the risk of some types of cancer. Likewise, hormone-based birth control methods can increase or decrease the risk of different cancers.
According to the National Cancer Institute, taking birth control pills can affect a person’s risk of certain cancers in the following ways:
*Breast cancer: The risk of breast cancer is slightly higher in people who use hormonal birth control pills than in people who have never used them.
*Ovarian and endometrial cancer: These cancers seem to be less likely to occur in people who take the pill.
*Cervical cancer: Taking the pill for longer than 5 years is linked with a higher risk of cervical cancer. However, most types of cervical cancer are due to the human papillomavirus.
*Colorectal cancer: Taking the pill is linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer.
For people who cannot use or do not wish to take the birth control pill, other options are available.
The effectiveness of different methods of birth control vary. With typical use, around 9 out of 100 people using birth control pills will become pregnant within a year.
It is important to note that birth control pills do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Only barrier methods of protection, such as condoms and dental dams, can prevent STIs.
The sections below will look at some alternative forms of contraception.
Condoms are barrier methods of birth control. There are many types and brands. Most are made from latex, but people with a latex allergy can find polyurethane or lambskin versions.
With typical use, 18 out of 100 people who rely on male condoms for contraception will become pregnant within a year.
A diaphragm is another barrier method of contraception. This is a shallow, dome shaped cup that, when a person places it in the vagina, can prevent sperm from reaching the cervix. People often use diaphragms with spermicide.
With typical use, around 12 out of 100 people who use diaphragms with spermicide will become pregnant within a year.
Vaginal rings
Vaginal rings are plastic rings that release hormones into the vagina to suppress ovulation.
To use a vaginal ring, a person can insert it for 21 days, remove it for 7 days to allow menstruation, and then insert a new ring.
As a hormonal method of birth control, the vaginal ring can have similar side effects to those of the pill.
With typical use, around 9 out of 100 people using vaginal rings will become pregnant within a year.
Intrauterine devices
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small devices that a healthcare provider can insert into the uterus. IUDs can be hormonal or non-hormonal. Hormonal IUDs can last between 5 and 7 years, while non-hormonal IUDs can last for up to 10 years.
With typical use, fewer than 1 out of 100 people who use an IUD will become pregnant within a year.
Hormonal IUDs can have similar side effects to those of the pill. Non-hormonal or copper IUDs can cause:
*irregular periods,
*heavier periods
*worsened cramps.
The implant
The contraceptive implant is a small, plastic rod that a healthcare provider can insert into the upper arm. It releases a hormone to prevent pregnancy and can last for 3 years.
With typical use, fewer than 1 out of 100 people with the implant will become pregnant in a year.
As a hormonal method, side effects can be similar to those of the birth control pill.
Birth control injections
Birth control injections, also known as the shot, are hormonal injections that a person can receive every 3 months to prevent pregnancy.
With typical use, around 6 out of 100 people receiving these injections will become pregnant within a year.
The shot vs. the pill
The pill and the shot are both hormonal methods of birth control. The main differences are in the method of administration. They might also produce different side effects.
Like the pill, the shot suppresses ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus to reduce the chance of sperm reaching egg cells. It is a progestin-only contraceptive.
The shot is slightly more reliable at preventing pregnancy than the pill. This is because the user does not have to remember to take it every day. However, they must remember to get a shot every 3 months for it to be effective.
Many of the side effects are the same, including:
*breast tenderness
*changes in mood
*missed periods
*possible weight gain
Long-term use of the shot may lead to bone loss. This might increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture in later life.

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Mtonga Isaac Pharmacy,
Ng'ombe Township,
#16/24 Off Zambezi road,
Email: mtongaisaacpharmacy@gmail.com,
Tel: +260974272433/+260966399444,
Lusaka, Zambia.

Mtonga Isaac Pharmacy Zambia


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