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Norplant® (Implant)

Norplant is a relatively new contraceptive method which involves six matchstick-size implants being inserted in the skin of a woman’s inner arm in a fan-like pattern under a local anesthetic in a simple, almost pain free procedure. These sticks release a continuous low dosage of a synthetic hormone into the bloodstream inhibiting ovulation and thickening the cervical mucous. It causes changes in the lining of the uterus that interfere with the ability of fertilized eggs to implant in the uterus. Norplant is one of the most effective methods of birth control available to women today and is effective for five years, but may be removed earlier if desired. “Contraceptive Research, Introduction, and Use: Lessons from Norplant” by Polly F. Harrison is a book that can be useful for any woman with, or considering Norplant or other hormonal implants. More Information

AdvantagesDisadvantages
no interruption between foreplay and intercourseSide effects*
no inconvenience of a pillimplants may be slightly visible
implant site is comfortable and barely visible
effective within 24 hours after insertion
effectiveness rates high
can use while breast-feeding starting six weeks after delivery

* Side effects include:

  • acne
  • breast tenderness
  • change in appetite
  • depression
  • dermatitis
  • enlargement of the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes
  • hair growth or loss
  • headaches
  • infection at insertion site (rare)
  • irregular bleeding
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • pregnancies, which rarely occur, are more likely to be ectopic (in the fallopian tubes)
  • prolonged menstrual bleeding
  • scarring and/or discoloration of the skin at insertion site
  • skipped periods
  • spotting between periods
  • small amount of bleeding each day while using Norplant
  • weight gain or loss

Seek immediate medical attention should the following occur:

  • arm pain
  • blurred vision
  • delayed periods after a long interval of regular periods
  • expulsion of an implant
  • heavy vaginal bleeding
  • migraine headaches
  • pus or bleeding at the insertion site
  • repeated very painful headaches
  • severe lower abdominal pain
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