The levonorgestrel implant (marketed under the registered trademark Norplant®) provides long-acting, effective contraception for a period of five years. For most women, fertility returns to pre-implant levels soon after removal, but in some cases is delayed for as long as 18 months. Menstrual irregularities represent a common side effect, particularly during the first year of use.
It becomes effective within 24 hours of insertion. Of every 10,000 women who use Norplant for five years, fewer than five will become pregnant. Norplant is slightly more effective than sterilization, but its contraceptive effect disappears a few hours after the implants are removed.
Although unproven, some scientists suspect that prolonged use of progestin-only implants or injections may slow the growth of bones in young women. Young women should discuss this controversy with their health care provider before having Norplant inserted. It may be possible for women to predict whether they will have side effects with Norplant. They can do this by taking the progestin-only pill, Ovrette®.
Tens of thousands of women have sued the company that makes Norplant. They claim that they were uninformed of its side effects. However, not a single court case has been proven that Norplant causes undisclosed or irreversible side effects. Nevertheless, the company agreed to settle 36,000 of these complaints out of court.
It can be inserted at any time of the month if you are using the Pill or IUD. Other than that, it must be determined first that you are NOT pregnant before insertion. The clinician will wash the skin with an antiseptic and numb a small area of your arm with a pain killer. The clinician will make one small cut. The six capsules will be inserted under the skin of the arm you use least. You need all six capsules to prevent pregnancy. Insertion takes about 10 minutes. It is painless, except for the needle prick of the pain killer. Some women feel some discomfort for a little while. For removal, your clinician will numb the area with a pain killer. One small cut will be made to remove all of the implants. Sometimes, several incisions are needed because the implants may be more difficult to locate. Removal takes longer than insertion - up to 30 minutes - and more than one visit may be required. Women who are susceptible to scarring may have scars after removal.
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