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Implant

Quick Facts

Most effective

Effective for 3 years

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

Does not protect from STDs

More about the Implant

  • The implant is a small, thin rod that goes under the skin of your inner, upper arm.
  • It protects you from pregnancy for up to 3 years.
  • It’s small, about the size of a matchstick, so most of the time people can’t see it once it’s in.
  • Your menstrual bleeding may change. Periods may get longer or shorter, or you may have no bleeding at all.
  • The implant does not protect you from HIV or other STDs.

If you don’t want to worry about remembering birth control, the implant can be a great choice for you. Once it’s in, there’s nothing more for you to do and it lasts for 3 years. You don’t have to pick it up or do anything right before you have sex, so you won’t lose it or forget it.

A hand holding an implant, which is a small white rod
A woman points to the place in her upper arm where the implant is inserted

How the Implant Works

The implant has a hormone that keeps your eggs from leaving your ovaries. It also thickens your cervical mucus which blocks sperm from getting to the egg. If sperm can’t get to an egg, you can’t get pregnant.

Talk to your provider if you think you might want an implant. They will give you a physical exam and ask questions to make sure an implant is the right choice for you. After you decide to have the implant, they will numb a small area of the skin of your upper arm and insert the implant just under your skin. That’s it!

If you get the implant during the first five days of your period, you don’t need to use a backup method of birth control. If you get an implant outside of that time, you have to use a backup method, such as condoms, for the next week.

When it’s time to take the implant out, your provider will numb your arm again just above the tip of the implant, make a tiny cut in your skin, and take out the implant. You can have the implant removed any time that you want, like when you want to get pregnant or if you have side effects that don’t go away. Otherwise, it will need to be removed after 3 years.

Effectiveness

The implant is more than 99% effective. This means that less than 1 out of 100 women using this method will get pregnant in a year.

It is one of the most effective methods of birth control.  Unlike most other methods, you don’t have to do anything once the implant is in. Some medications may make the implant less effective, so talk to your provider to see if this method will work well for you.

Donut chart showing 99%. The title says "Over 99% effective"
Nine hands each holding a thumbs up

Benefits

  • You don’t have to remember to take it every day.
  • It doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment.
  • Your birth control is taken care of for up to 3 years.
  • It can be used while breastfeeding.
  • It can be used by women who can’t take estrogen.

Your provider can talk with you more about these benefits and whether the implant is the best choice for you.

Side Effects

Many women get spotting in between periods or have longer, heavier periods. Often this lasts for the first 6 to 12 months of having an implant. For some women, this happens the whole time the implant is in. However, some women get no periods at all. Therefore, if you want the implant, you need to be okay with not knowing when you could get your periods or how long they could last.

Less common, side effects are:

  • A change in your sex drive
  • Breast pain
  • Marks or scarring on the skin over the implant
  • Pain where the implant was placed
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with insertion or removal
  • Headache
  • Acne

Most side effects go away on their own, so give it some time. If you have side effects that don’t improve after six months, talk with your provider about switching to something that works better for you. Just make sure to start a new method right away so that you stay protected.

The implant doesn’t protect you from HIV or other STDs. Condoms and internal condoms give great STD protection, so to stay safe you can use condoms as well as your implant.

A young woman holds up her hands as if weighing options and looks thoughtful
California Department of Health Care Services Family PACT logo

Family PACT Coverage

If you are eligible, Family PACT covers the cost of the implant. A provider can help you decide if the implant is the best option for you. You can search for a Family PACT provider near you by clicking on the “Provider Search” button in the right hand corner of this page.