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The implant (Nexplanon is the brand name; previously Implanon) is a teeny-tiny rod that's inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It's so small, in fact, most people can't see it once it's inserted--which means it can be your little secret, if you're so inclined. The implant releases hormones that keep your ovaries from releasing eggs and thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Plus, it prevents pregnancy for three years. Not too shabby.

The Gist

Invisible to the world but not to you. It's easy, incredibly effective, long lasting, and reversible.

Quick Facts

  • Effectiveness - The implant is among the most effective methods.
  • Side effects - Irregular bleeding is the most common side effect of the implant.
  • Effort - Quick insertion and you're set for 3 years.
  • How to get it - You need to see a provider to get it inserted.
  • Cost - Anywhere from $0-$800. Big range, right? Read more about why or contact a clinic.
  • STI Risk - Can't prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections, unfortunately :( Pair it with a male or female condom to stay safe!


Get it and forget it - If you're a busy person who doesn't want to worry about remembering birth control, the implant just may be for you. Once it's in, it lasts for up to 3 years.

Hands free - No packages or prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy, so there's nothing that could get lost or forgotten.

Total privacy - No one can tell when you have the implant. There's no tell-tale packaging, and nothing you need to do right before you have sex.

The pregnancy question - You should return to fertility (fancy way of saying you should go back to being able to get pregnant) any time after the implant is removed. So don't take any chances. If you get it taken out, but you're not ready for a baby, protect yourself with another method right away.

How To Use It

Once the implant is inserted, it's as easy to use as, well, doing nothing. That's right. The implant just sits there, under your skin, offering protection against pregnancy for up to three years.

Here's how the whole thing goes: You visit a health care provider, they gather all your medical info and give you a physical exam, then they numb a small area of your upper arm with a painkiller and insert the implant under your skin. And you're done.

If you get the implant during the first five days of your period, lucky you: You're set with pregnancy protection from that very moment. If you're outside of those first five days, you'll need to use a back up method for the following week. (Condoms, female condoms, diaphragm, sponge, or emergency contraception.)

When it's time to take the implant out, your provider will numb your arm again, make a tiny cut in your skin, and remove the implant. If you're interested in continuing to use the implant, they can put another one in at the same time.

Learn more about the implant.

Where to get it