Nexplanon is a popular and effective birth control implant that prevents pregnancy for up to 3 years. It consists of a flexible plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that contains progestin hormones. The rod is inserted under the skin of the upper arm by a healthcare provider using a special applicator.
While Nexplanon is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when inserted correctly, there are some things you should avoid doing after getting it implanted to prevent complications or accidental pregnancy:
Don’t Miss Your Follow-Up Appointment
It’s crucial to schedule and attend a 3-4 week follow-up visit with your healthcare provider after getting Nexplanon. During this visit, your provider will:
- Confirm the implant is in the proper position in your arm by feeling for it
- Make sure it has healed properly with no signs of infection
- Answer any questions or concerns you may have
Attending this appointment ensures Nexplanon is working effectively to prevent pregnancy. Missing it could mean it was not inserted correctly or has shifted position, reducing efficacy.
Don’t Use Backup Birth Control Methods
Nexplanon starts working to prevent ovulation and thickens cervical mucus almost immediately after insertion. This means you don’t need to use backup methods like condoms or oral contraceptives.
In fact, using other hormonal contraceptives with Nexplanon could raise your hormone levels to unsafe amounts. The only exception is using condoms to prevent STDs if you have multiple sexual partners.
Don’t Push on the Implant Site
It’s important not to push, poke, or prod the implant insertion site in your arm in the first 5-7 days after getting Nexplanon. The incision needs time to heal properly.
Poking or pressing on the site could:
- Cause pain, bruising, or bleeding
- Dislodge or move the implant from its correct position
- Increase chances of infection
Don’t worry – you’ll barely feel the implant after the first week once the insertion site has healed.
Don’t Play Contact Sports
Avoid playing contact sports like hockey, rugby, boxing, or football for 2-3 weeks after getting Nexplanon. Collision with other players could displace the implant or lead to bruising of the insertion site before it has fully healed.
After 2-3 weeks, the risk of the implant shifting is much lower and you can resume contact sports. But, you should still avoid any direct blows to the implant site when possible.
Don’t Go in Hot Tubs or Saunas
It’s best to avoid hot tubs, jacuzzis, saunas, or taking very hot baths for the first 48 hours after Nexplanon insertion. The warm, moist environment could lead to infection of the insertion site before the incision has sealed.
After 48 hours, it should be safe to enjoy hot tubs, baths, or saunas again without increased infection risk.
Don’t Miss Periods
Nexplanon can make periods lighter, irregular, or even stop them altogether. But missing 1 or more periods doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant if you got Nexplanon inserted correctly.
Still, if you go more than 6 weeks without a period after having regular cycles previously, take a pregnancy test to be sure. Nexplanon fails in about 1 of every 100 women, so pregnancy is possible.
Don’t Ignore Signs of Infection
Signs of infection after Nexplanon insertion are rare but can include:
- Severe pain at the insertion site
- Heavy bleeding from the incision
- Redness, swelling, warmth, or pus
- Fever or flu-like illness
If you notice any of these potential infection signs, see your healthcare provider immediately. You may need antibiotics or even implant removal to treat the infection.
Don’t Hesitate to Get It Removed
If you’re having continued side effects like headaches, acne, heavy bleeding, depression, or weight gain from Nexplanon, don’t hesitate to have it removed ahead of schedule and opt for a different birth control method.
While the implant prevents pregnancy very effectively, it’s not worth enduring intolerable side effects for years. Your provider can quickly and easily remove Nexplanon if needed.
When used properly, Nexplanon is one of the most reliable birth control methods to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Avoiding certain activities and being aware of potential complications can help ensure it works safely and effectively.
Attend your follow-up visit, allow the insertion site to heal fully, and be alert for any signs of problems. Report any intolerable side effects to your provider right away. Following these simple guidelines allows you to enjoy Nexplanon’s convenience and excellent pregnancy prevention.
What is Nexplanon?
Nexplanon is a hormone-releasing birth control implant that provides up to 3 years of protection against pregnancy. It consists of a thin, flexible plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that contains 68 mg of etonogestrel – a progestin hormone used in many contraceptives.
A healthcare provider inserts the Nexplanon implant just under the skin on the inside of the upper arm using a special pre-loaded applicator. The procedure only takes a few minutes and can be done during a routine office visit.
Once in place, Nexplanon prevents pregnancy through several mechanisms:
- It thickens the mucus lining of the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching or fertilizing an egg.
- It inhibits ovulation by maintaining consistent hormone levels.
- The progestin in it thins the uterine lining to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.
The implant begins working within 24 hours of insertion and provides pregnancy protection for up to 3 years. It can then be removed or replaced with a new implant after 3 years if continued birth control is desired.
Who is Nexplanon Recommended For?
Nexplanon may be a good option for women who:
- Want long-acting but reversible birth control
- Prefer a low maintenance method that doesn’t require daily effort
- Have trouble remembering to take pills or get shots regularly
- Want an implant with a low failure rate
- Need contraception that can be used while breastfeeding
- Want lighter, more regular periods
It is safe for most women of reproductive age, including many with medical conditions like high blood pressure. Your provider can advise if Nexplanon is appropriate for your individual needs.
How is the Nexplanon Implant Inserted?
Getting Nexplanon placed is a quick and nearly painless in-office procedure. Your provider will use the following insertion steps:
- Clean and numb the skin on your inner upper arm with an anesthetic.
- Make a small incision in the arm using a sterile applicator.
- Insert the narrow Nexplanon implant into the incision.
- Close the incision with an adhesive bandage.
- Apply a pressure bandage to minimize bruising or bleeding.
The provider will also give you instructions on wound care and precautions to follow. The incision should close and begin healing within 5-7 days.
You’ll get the implant inserted during the first 5 days of your menstrual period to ensure you aren’t pregnant. Insertion only takes a few minutes and many women report feeling little or no pain with the local anesthetic.
How Does Nexplanon Prevent Pregnancy?
Nexplanon prevents pregnancy through several mechanisms:
- Thickening cervical mucus – Nexplanon thickens the mucus around the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching an egg.
- Inhibiting ovulation – The progestin hormone stops egg release from the ovaries by suppressing follicular development.
- Thinning the uterine lining – Nexplanon thins the endometrium lining of the uterus, which helps prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.
These combined actions provide excellent pregnancy protection for up to 3 years after insertion. The implant is over 99% effective, meaning less than 1 out of 100 women with Nexplanon will get pregnant each year.
What to Expect After Insertion
The first weeks after getting Nexplanon come with some temporary side effects while your body adjusts:
- Soreness – The insertion site may be tender, swollen, or bruised for 1-3 weeks.
- Scarring – A small scar will form where the implant was inserted.
- Bleeding changes – You may have frequent spotting or light bleeding off and on for months.
- Moodiness – Some women experience headaches, breast tenderness, nausea, or mood changes at first.
- Skin reactions – Acne, blemishes, or dark patches on the skin may occur.
These irritation effects usually resolve within the first year as your hormone levels stabilize. Any intolerable reactions can be addressed by having Nexplanon removed.
Pros of Nexplanon
Some advantages of the Nexplanon implant include:
- Over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when inserted correctly
- Lasts for 3 full years
- Does not require taking a daily pill
- Rapid return to fertility after removal
- Does not interact with other medications
- Safe for use while breastfeeding
- Covered by most insurance plans
Cons of Nexplanon
Some disadvantages of Nexplanon include:
- May cause unpredictable vaginal bleeding
- Rare risk of the implant moving or becoming embedded in the arm
- Requires a medical procedure for insertion and removal
- May not be suitable for women with sensitivities to progestin hormones
- Can only be used for up to 3 years before replacement is needed
As with any medication, there are some risks and side effects to consider. Your provider can help determine if this implant is the right contraceptive choice for your needs.
Signs of Complications
Although rare, there are some risks and complications to watch for after getting Nexplanon:
- Severe pain at the insertion site – This may indicate an infection, which requires prompt treatment.
- Implant becomes visible – If you can feel or see the implant, it may have moved from the correct position.
- Numbness or tingling in the arm – This can occur if the implant presses on a nerve.
- Heavy or prolonged bleeding – Bleeding lasting over a week may indicate a problem.
- Difficulty removing the implant – Scarring around the rod can sometimes make removal challenging.
Report any symptoms of complications right away to your healthcare provider. Most are easily treated with implant removal or oral medication if addressed quickly.
Nexplanon is one of the most convenient and reliable birth control methods available today. Following your healthcare provider’s instructions for wound care and avoiding certain activities during the healing process can help minimize risks and side effects.
Attend your follow-up visit, allow time for potential side effects to resolve, and don’t hesitate to report any severe reactions or symptoms of complications. With proper use, Nexplanon safely prevents pregnancy with minimal effort required.