Implant for Birth Control: Care Instructions

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Subdermal implant under the skin


The implant is used to prevent pregnancy. It's a thin rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin (subdermal) on the inside of your arm.

The implant prevents pregnancy for up to 5 years. Talk to your doctor about how long you can use it. After it is put in, you don't have to do anything else to prevent pregnancy.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

How do you use the subdermal implant?

  • The implant is put in by your doctor or another trained health professional. It only takes a few minutes. This can also be done right after you give birth. Your doctor will remove the implant when it needs to be taken out.
  • An adhesive bandage and a tight (pressure) bandage will be placed over the site. This helps reduce swelling and bruising.
  • Ask your doctor if you need to use backup birth control, such as a condom, for a week after insertion. Whether you need to do this depends on where you are in your cycle.

How can you care for the insertion site?

  • Remove the pressure bandage after 24 hours. Keep the area dry.
  • Keep an adhesive bandage on the site for 3 to 5 days after the procedure.
  • If you have pain, use an ice pack or take an over-the-counter pain medicine. Some soreness or bruising is normal.

What else do you need to know?

  • It's safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • The implant has side effects.
    • You may have changes in your period. Your period may stop. You may also have spotting or bleeding between periods.
    • You may have mood changes, less interest in sex, or weight gain.
  • The implant can be removed at any time for any reason if you choose. Otherwise, it will be removed at the end of its effectiveness. When the implant is removed, you could get pregnant. If you don't want to get pregnant, your doctor can replace the implant or you can ask your doctor about other birth control methods.
  • Check with your doctor before you use any other medicines. This includes over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements. Birth control hormones may not work as well to prevent pregnancy when combined with other medicines.
  • The implant doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV. A condom can be used to reduce your risk of getting an STI.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe pain or numbness and tingling in the arm where the implant was inserted.
  • You have increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness at the insertion site.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Swelling in the leg or groin.
    • A color change on the leg or groin. The skin may be reddish or purplish, depending on your usual skin color.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You can't feel your implant.
  • You think your implant might be bent or broken in your arm.
  • You think you might be pregnant.
  • You have any problems with your birth control method.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.