It’s Under Your Skin

Photo Illustration by Daniel Lim / el Don
Photo Illustration by Daniel Lim / el Don
Contraceptive prevents pregnancies for up to three years

By Annie Lam

Unconventional methods of birth control like implants may be the safer choice for pregnancy prevention, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Unlike other contraceptives, the implant is inserted beneath the skin of the upper arm with a matchstick-sized plastic rod.

It releases hormones that keep the ovaries from releasing eggs, preventing pregnancy for about three years.

“An implant is one of the effective methods,” said Claudia Russell, a birth control specialist at Planned Parenthood. “This is perfect for them if they want safety and less responsibilities, especially for younger women who are forgetful.”

Possible side effects include nausea, headache and weight gain. Irregular bleeding is also common in the first few months of use.

After that, many women stop having periods altogether.

“I’ve been on it for a few weeks and I’ve gotten so many cramps, but it’s worth it because I don’t need to worry about taking the pills every day,” one user said.

The device’s popularity has risen in recent years. Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization for sexual health education, reported 8.5 percent of U.S. women ages 25 to 39 used implants in 2009, up three percent from 2007. The failure rate for implants is very low. It is recognized as the most effective form of birth control.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports less than one in 100 women become pregnant while using them, as opposed to nine percent of those on the pill.

Condoms fail about 18 percent of the time, according to the Institute.

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Implants at a Glance
Armed: About nine percent of women in the U.S. used birth control implants in 2009.
side effects: Users could experience nausea, headaches and weight gain, among others.
broken: Condoms, which are the most used contraceptive, fail 18 percent of the time.

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