Your Experience with Nexplanon?
February 1, 2017 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Do you use Nexplanon for birth control? Can you tell me what it's like, and whether you'd do it again? Or, if you had it removed, why?

I've only heard anecdata about Nexplanon being terrible, but it seems like it could be a very good option for me (our current administration/desire for long-lasting contraceptive protection + Medical Reasons why an IUD is not ideal)--although I'm wary, having only heard negative things. Do you have one, and can you tell me what it's been like? Searching for past questions only turns up the occasional comment.
posted by stellaluna to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just went through a barrage of testing for symptoms that look liked rheumatoid arthritis, that started 6 weeks after the Nexplanon was inserted and ended 2 weeks after I had it taken out. I had blood tests and my C-Reactive Protein came back high, but everything else was normal.

When I first had it placed and the joint aches started I was able to find a lot of anecdata and other reports of women experiencing the same thing, but when I looked again this past autumn just prior to removal it wasn't nearly so prevalent.

For me, it did not help with excessive bleeding during my periods (and my periods were irregular and sometimes lasted months), but it didn't affect my mood as much as I'd feared. I had it inserted as a last ditch resort after 2 IUDs failed, and left it until I felt it was safe for me to have it removed. I did experience weight gain on it.
posted by annathea at 12:20 PM on February 1, 2017

I have used it on and off (off because I had it removed to get pregnant) for about 4/5 years now. Only issues I've had with it were bruising once when it was put in, and intermittent (and therefore unpredictable) light periods for 6-ish months. In general I've been very happy with it and plan to stick with it for the long term.
posted by Catseye at 12:30 PM on February 1, 2017

I have a Nexplanon (nearly due for replacement!) and I had an Implanon before that, and it really works for me! Both times, I had no period for the first year, then light bleeding every other month for a few months, then regular light-ish monthly periods for the last 16-18 months. (Well, there is this weird thing where the bleeding will stop for 3-4 days and then resume for a day or two, but it adds up to less bleeding than my normal pre-Implanon cycles, and way less cramping.) I haven't had noticeable mood or weight changes on it. It does ache for several days when you get it installed.

My doctor did warn me about the prevalence of side effects when I first got the Implanon, and her attitude was basically "Well, maybe it will work for you." So yeah, it doesn't work for everyone.
posted by zeptoweasel at 12:39 PM on February 1, 2017

I love mine! Just got my second 2 weeks ago. I wanted an IUD a few years ago, but couldn't get one so we went with nexplanon.

It's great not worrying about a pill. My cycle has always been shortish, now it's a more reasonable 4-5* weeks. It's a bit less consistent than with the pill, but my PMS symptoms are generally milder (not perfect, but better).I too get the weird pause in bleeding, but I used to bleed for so long I'm still coming out ahead. This is obviously a huge YMMV, but for me it's great.

When I first went on it I did have a fair amount of break through bleeding, but I also had been having a fair amount of that on the pill anyways (I had a lot of never ending periods on the mini pill). I followed up with my provider when I kept having lots of bleeding with nexplanon, and it turned out I had super low vitamin D. Once I got that back up, everything leveled out. I'm still a heavy bleeder but it's lighter than before.

I also felt vaguely naseaus when I get a new one for about a week, but that happened whenever changed pills before. And it was a pretty mild nausea, I feel worse on long car trips. This time it cleared up fairly quickly.

Are you worried about placement and removal? That wasn't too bad. I've had two different providers place it. They numb you up very well. There's some bruising and soreness, but nothing ibprofen couldn't handle.

Removal was less fun...More because I'm a baby. My original one was on the deeper side and didn't pop out easily. There really wasn't much pain though, it was just thinking about it that made me squirmy. But it made the placement for the new one even less noticeable.

Also, my provider this time did a tighter compression bandage, so even though there was more going on (with the removal+placement) the bruising was much better.

* Some people get break through again with a new placement, so we'll see if mine becomes erratic again. Both my providers emphasized that if it ever stops working well with my body at any time don't hesitate to follow up with them and we can schedule a removal if needed. I've loved both the providers I had for it, so that makes it easy for me to try something and then schedule appointments if I'm ever questioning anything.
posted by ghost phoneme at 12:46 PM on February 1, 2017

Generally not worried about placement or removal--more concerned with side effects like heavy bleeding, emotional irregularity, weight gain, acne, etc.
posted by stellaluna at 12:53 PM on February 1, 2017

I had the nexplanon implant for almost a year and loved it. The insertion hurt a little, and my arm was sore for a week or so, but then it was completely maintenance-free. fwiw, my main problem is heavy bleeding (fibroids), and the nexplanon didn't do anything to ease or exacerbate that. It had no memorable impacts on my weight, acne, or emotional well-being. As intended, I never got pregnant.

I only had it removed because I wanted to try skipping my periods altogether with another method of birth control.
posted by scrubjay at 1:19 PM on February 1, 2017


Went in looking for a lower hormone alternative (Copper IUD not an option for me, what with heavy cramping/bleeding already) to the pill I'd been on for years and which had already given me lots of the basic hormonal birth control side effects - weight gain and depression, mostly. Will be going in for a replacement in March.

The only problem I've had is what is either breakthrough bleeding or irregularity - basically, a two to three day bleeding period about two weeks after my last cycle, with my next period coming a month after THAT. Since period-related emotional swings and cramping have both lessened a lot for me with the Nexplanon, I've sort of shrugged about the bleeding. I may also have seen an uptick in acne, but since clear skin was the only good side effect of my previous pill I don't think that's a direct effect of the Nexplanon so much as an adjustment to something closer to my normal levels.
posted by theweasel at 1:44 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

The first year I had it, I was pretty sure I had made a huge mistake and should have it removed, but because of the severity of the bruising I had when I put it in, decided to wait it out and see if it got better. The problems at the time were: extreme emotional swings, months of "breakthrough bleeding", general irregularity of bleeding and other hormonal symptoms. For the last, things like, I had been on the pill in part to keep my hormonal migraines to a minimum, which worked well, especially if I did a regimen of 6 weeks on, 1 week with the "off" pill -- I couldn't use the types that went longer, because of all the breakthrough bleeding, but at least with 6 weeks on, I only had a migraine once every 7 weeks (instead of once every 4). With Nexplanon, I'm not sure how often they were, but they were completely uncorrelated with any bleeding, which I found very frustrating to manage.

Now that I'm two years in, I like it a lot more. Most of the breakthrough bleeding seems to have stopped -- I can't remember the last time I had any, maybe August (18 months after initial insertion)?

I still, many nights, sort of jump up in bed and think "Shoot, I didn't take my pill" and then happily remember I don't have to do that anymore.

I guess, overall, my feelings are -- it's some of the best hormonal birth control I've been on, but it took a while to get there. Memail me if you have any questions about anything I said.
posted by freezer cake at 1:46 PM on February 1, 2017

I'm on my third implant/second Nexplanon, and I LOVE IT. The only significant side effect I've experienced is very irregular bleeding (bleed for 6-8 weeks, take a week off, bleed for three more weeks, take three months off--that kind of irregular) but only with this third implant have I found myself using pads again--previously my bleeding was so light I could get by exclusively woth pantiliners even overnight. Also, I seem to be settling into a cycle, if a slightly erratic one, with this third implant, so I guess my body's getting more used to things. I've had acne throughout my adult life and the implant didn't have an effect one way or the other; ditto with depression/anxiety. I've actually dealt with significant weight gain and loss due to side effects of other meds while also on the implant, so I feel confident saying that for me, the implant is weight-neutral.

My last removal/insertion was a *breeze*! The clinician (at PP) was experienced with implants and knew exactly what she was doing. I told her I'd had a significant amount of pain the last time (my first removal/insertion; my second implant). She said she'd give me extra numbing medication if I needed it, but I didn't even need it. Once the numbing medication took effect, I was done in no more than a minute. A skilled clinician makes all the difference in the world! Thanks, Susan!
posted by epj at 1:47 PM on February 1, 2017

I just got one about a month ago, and I love it thus far! No intense side effects yet, though it is admittedly still early days in the scheme of things.
posted by quatsch at 2:20 PM on February 1, 2017

I *LOVE* my Nexplanon. I am so enthusiastic about it. I tell all of my friends how much I love it. I spent a lot of time thinking that I wanted a Mirena, and went to Planned Parenthood to discuss it. It turned out that Nexplanon was a better option with my insurance, so I went with that. I love not having to worry about remembering to pick up pills from the pharmacy, and I am not in general a reliable enough human being to be able to take a pill every day at the same time (residency schedules and 30-hour calls and such).

The worst part of the implantation was the lidocaine to numb it. I had quite a bit of irregular bleeding at the start, but it resolved after about 5-6 months. I did not have cramps with the bleeding, which is unusual for me. Weight has been approximately stable.

I'm actually due to get this one removed and a new one implanted in the next few weeks. From a medical perpective (although IANYD), the rationale I used was that I wanted to have a family at some point, but to have reliable hormonal birth control right now without the (very small) risk of uterine perforation that comes with an IUD. My insurance co-pay is $45 this time around. The last time, it was $20.
posted by honeybee413 at 3:06 PM on February 1, 2017

I had my Nexplanon removed after about a year and a half of hoping the side effects would go away, and won't be getting another. I loved the idea of it, but it completely killed my libido. Also, I had been on my period for over nine (9!) weeks when it was removed.
posted by cp311 at 3:28 PM on February 1, 2017

I am on my fourth or fifth implant (was implanon, now nexplanon). No side effects of any kind. Much lighter periods (to the point of near non existence a lot of the time), vastly reduced cramping, to the point where I have kept using the implant despite no need for BC.

Also it's very good for freaking people out by wiggling it around under my skin.
posted by emilyw at 4:30 AM on February 2, 2017

Hello! I've had mine in for going on a year and a half now. I like it a lot! Here's been the pros and cons for me:

-No bonkers mood swings or deep, dark hole depression like I'd had with some pills I tried. (Yazmin is THE WORST.)
-Insertion was nowhere NEAR as painful as an IUD. The worst part of the Nexplanon insertion was the novocaine injection (it kinda burned!) and then my arm was sore for a few days, but no worse than a tetanus shot.
-Completely unobtrusive, totally forget it's there, but it does its job and is certainly not going to fall out on its own.
-ALMOST no periods! Ever! Huzzah!
-Terrify your squeamish friends!
-Doesn't appear to kill my libido (like the Nuvaring did)

-ALMOST no periods...but still some. The intermittent bleeding is still very much a thing for me, even a year and a half in. I think this is not typical of most people, but it is definitely a thing I occasionally still deal with. It is mostly very light spotting for like a day or two, but every so often, I get a couple of days of heavier stuff + sore boobs (like right now, ack). Mostly I feel like the trade off is worth it, but YMMV.
-I have the teeniest, tiniest little scar at the injection site. I am super-duper pale, so this was not a surprise, but if you have a tattoo on that part of your arm, that's something to keep in mind.
-I have not noticed any weight gain really, although it does seem slightly more difficult to lose additional weight, even when trying to? Maybe? Data point of one?
posted by helloimjennsco at 5:55 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was on Implanon (the previous version) for close to a decade and LOVED it. The biggest side effect is that my period stopped, with very very occasional spotting.

However, after close to a decade of continuous use I did have a degree of hair loss, which I attribute to being continually on a medication for a very long time.

Anecdotally, you either love the implant or hate it, there seems to be very little middle ground. If it turns out that you hate it, you can always get it removed.
posted by nerdfish at 9:35 AM on February 2, 2017

Thank you all!
posted by stellaluna at 11:20 AM on February 2, 2017

Just to add on: I've ad my nexplanon for about a month, so admittedly not too long. My period came a week late with almost no symptoms--no PMS, no cramping, no sore and heavy boobs. It lasted for a couple days longer than usual but was lighter. Now it's gone. Normally I get EVERY SYMPTOM--PMS, weird food cravings, very sore boobs, awful cramps, etc etc. This time I legitimately didn't realize when it started. The worst thing that happened was I got constipated as all holy fuck the week I normally get my period. Who knows what caused this. It since disappeared. Hoping this isn't my new normal thing for the week of my period. It could just be one of those things, but since I don't normally get constipated (like it's never happened to me before) I was fucking baffled.

My acne has improved a lot, and the dry, cracking, bleeding skin on my hands... disappeared. Like it just vanished. I think my moods are the same--I still get moody and anxious, so sometimes when I'm in a mood I think oh-no-it's-the-birth-control, but then I calm down and feel normal, which is kind of my baseline anyway so... eh?

It's basically just really chill all around for me and I don't even realize it's there now. My doctor said that the worst side effects tend to be in the first few months, so if you get it and you can tough that part out it should even out a lot.

Worst case scenario, you have it removed, and the side effects disappear. From what I understand it's pretty instant, which is a big plus.
posted by Amy93 at 7:33 PM on February 2, 2017

Updating for future readers: I did it, I've had it about six months, no adverse side effects except that sometimes I gross myself out when I touch the implant site by accident, I haven't had a period since, and in general I really, really love it and am so grateful to my doctor for suggesting it! I wish I had done it sooner!
posted by stellaluna at 2:39 PM on July 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

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