The implant is a small, flexible plastic tube that sits under the skin of your upper arm and releases the progestogen hormone. It is long-acting and reversible, so you can take it out if you want to get pregnant.

It is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

How it works

How to use it

A specially trained clinician will apply a local anaesthetic and then insert the implant under the skin of your upper arm.

Once the implant is in place, you don't have to think about contraception. It won't interrupt sex and you won’t see it.

It can be removed at any time by a trained doctor or nurse. It only takes a few minutes to remove, using a local anaesthetic.

What it does

The hormones released by the implant prevent pregnancy by:

  • Preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation).
  • Thickening the mucus in the neck of the womb, so it is harder for sperm to penetrate the womb and reach an egg.
  • Thinning the lining of the womb, so there is less chance of a fertilised egg implanting into the womb.

Pros and Cons


  • The implant works for up to three years.
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex.
  • It is an option for people who can’t use contraception containing the hormone oestrogen (such as the combined pill, contraceptive patch, or the vaginal ring).
  • There is no evidence that it causes additional weight gain.
  • Your fertility returns to normal as soon as it is removed, with no long term effects.
  • It is not affected by diarrhoea or vomiting (like some methods).
  • It can help reduce heavy periods and reduce period pain.


  • It’s common to experience temporary side effects during the first few months, like headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, mood swings and changes to your libido.
  • Bleeding patterns may be irregular and prolongued, or stop altogether (this usually settles down after a year).
  • It can cause or worsen acne.
  • It doesn’t protect you against STIs.


Could the implant get lost in my body or snap?

When correctly inserted, the implant lies in the tissue just below the surface of the skin. This holds it in position and it should not get lost. Because the implant is made of a flexible plastic, it is unlikely to break inside the user’s arm.

What if I leave the implant in for more than three years?

Implants will no longer be effective after three years and they should be removed at this point. However, they will not cause any immediate harm if left place longer than three years.

How quickly will the implant start to work?

If the implant is fitted during the first five days of your menstrual cycle, you will be immediately protected against becoming pregnant. If it is fitted on any other day of your menstrual cycle, you will not be protected against pregnancy for up to seven days, and should use another method, such as condoms.

Does it hurt to get the implant fitted?

A local anaesthetic is used to numb the area so it won’t hurt.

The small wound made in your arm is closed with a dressing and does not need stitches. There may be some bruising, tenderness and swelling for a couple of days afterwards.

How will the implant affect my periods?

The hormone progesterone in the implant has important contraceptive effects but also is associated with irregular bleeding. Your periods may become irregular, prolongued or stop altogether.

What if I want to have the implant removed?

You can have the implant removed at any time.

Can I use the implant if I’m approaching menopause?

If you're 45 or older when you have the implant fitted, it can be left until you reach menopause or you no longer need contraception.

Does the implant affect my fertility?

Your fertility should return to normal as soon as the implant is removed.

Can I use the implant after having a baby/whilst breastfeeding?

Yes, the implant can be fitted after having a baby and whilst breastfeeding.

Will other people be able to see my implant?

No. However, there may be some visible bruising for a couple of days after having the implant fitted.

Can medicines affect how the implant works?

Some medicines make the implant less effective (including those used to treat epilepsy, HIV and TB, and the herbal medicine St John’s Wort). Ask your GP, clinician or pharmacist and read the information that comes with your medicine.

Always tell your doctor that you have an implant if you are prescribed any medicines.

I’ve had a serious health condition. Can I use the implant?

You may not be able to use the implant if you have or have had any of the following:

  • Severe heart disease
  • Migraines
  • Breast cancer
  • Disease or tumours in the liver
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

Speak to your GP about whether it is suitable for you.