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Content appropriate for readers 15 and older

The implant

‘Get it and forget it’ birth control

The birth control implant for young women is a tiny, thin rod or rods about the size of a matchstick. Once it is inserted, a young woman is protected from pregnancy for up to 4 years. The implant is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. But it doesn’t protect you from STIs so you still need to use a condom to prevent infections including HIV.

How it works:
A nurse or doctor inserts the implant into the inside of your arm just under your skin. It releases the hormone progestin into your body.

Progestin stops young women from getting pregnant by preventing ovulation. When no eggs are present, pregnancy cannot happen. Progestin also makes cervical mucus thicker, so the sperm can’t get through.

Need to know:
The implant is not permanent. If you decide you want to get pregnant or you just don’t want to have your implant anymore, the clinic can take it out.

Some young women report irregular bleeding (or spotting), especially in the first 6-12 months. Sometimes the implant causes long-term spotting, or your period may get longer and heavier. But for most young women, the implant makes the period lighter. You may stop getting your period at all after a year.

The implant does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. Safer sex means using male or female condoms every time you have sex.


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