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Notes on Women's Health
Notes on Women's Health

Nexplanon: An Effective and Convenient Choice for Birth Control by Laury Berkwitt

One of the most personal decisions our patients make is the type of birth control they use. Our website describes many of the different options available, including barrier methods, hormonal options and intrauterine devices (IUDs), and we regularly help our patients identify the best birth control choice for their unique body, lifestyle and personal preferences.

What is Nexplanon?

One option that’s becoming increasingly popular is a method called Nexplanon. Many of our patients choose Nexplanon because it is discreet, effective, long-acting and convenient. Nexplanon provides long-term, easily reversible contraception that remains effective as it steadily releases hormones over the course of three years.

Nexplanon comes in the form of a small, flexible plastic rod, about the same shape and size as a cardboard matchstick. This rod is placed just under the skin in the upper arm. This insertion is performed during a brief office procedure by a qualified nurse or physician.

Nexplanon’s progestin-only hormones work by preventing an egg from developing. They also thin the lining of the womb, making it hard for a fertilized egg to attach itself. It also thickens the mucus at the entrance of the womb, making entry more difficult for sperm.

Nexplanon was originally marketed under the brand name Implanon, but it was modified slightly — primarily to make insertion of the device easier — and it is now marketed as Nexplanon. Implanon and Nexplanon have been used in more than 30 countries, with more than 2.5 million devices prescribed.

How effective is Nexplanon?

With a success rate of more than 99%, Nexplanon is considered to be the most effective form of contraception currently available, mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t require you to do anything: Studies have shown that user-dependent methods such as birth control pills are 22 times as likely to be associated with unintended pregnancies as Nexplanon. There’s no remembering to take a pill every day or applying a patch or worrying about a vaginal device shifting or falling out of place. You simply have it inserted into your arm — usually a painless procedure — and forget about it for the next three years. After three years, the device can be removed and replaced, all in the same visit. Nexplanon costs between $400 and $800 and is covered by many insurance plans.

What are the side-effects of Nexplanon?

Other than slight, temporary bruising from the procedure, most women experience no negative side-effects from Nexplanon. As with other hormonal contraceptives, many women who have the implant find that their periods become lighter or less frequent. However, in one study about 15 percent of women discontinued use of Nexplanon due to unscheduled or increased bleeding. Other possible side-effects — all relatively uncommon — include headaches, acne, weight gain, breast tenderness, moodiness and abdominal pain. In these cases, or if you wish to become pregnant, Nexplanon can be easily removed. If not replaced by another hormonal contraceptive method, fertility tends to return within a few weeks.

Additional information on Nexplanon

If you think Nexplanon might be a good choice for you, give our office a call. We can provide additional information and help you decide if Nexplanon might be a good choice for your body and your lifestyle. In the meantime, more information on Nexplanon can be found on the Merck & Co. website, at www.nexplanon-usa.com/en/consumer/index.asp.

About the practice

Laury Berwitt is a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Laury has a passion for providing quality women’s health care in a safe and comfortable manner by creating a trusting patient-practitioner relationship. She has been in practice for 10 years, caring for women of all ages.

Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is a gynecologist located in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He has more than 20 years of practice and surgical experience covering many facets of obstetrics and gynecology.

For more information, go to www.garofaloobgyn.com. John Garofalo, MD and Laury Berkwitt, APRN can be reached for personal consultations by calling 203.855.3535.