Norplant – Birth Control Implant

Norplant is a contraceptive implant made of soft rubber like material that consists of six thin flexible capsules. Each capsule is filled with synthetic progestin that is implanted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm. It came to the US market in 1991 and it has been tested for 20 years in 46 countries before it was approved in the United States. Since 2006 norplant is no longer available in the United States and replaced by implanon which is the only contraceptive implant currently available in the United States.

norplant, contraceptive implant, progestin, oral contraceptives, contraception

How it Works

The contraceptive implant is performed by the physicians by making a small incision in which the capsules are implanted under the skin in a fan pattern. The procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and it provides effective contraception within 24 hours after initial implant. The contraceptive implant is also removed by the physicians after the end of the cycle.

The implanted capsules work by slowly releasing progestin into the blood stream over the period of five years and it works the same way as the progestin-only pill to prevent conception. The progestins released from the capsules prevent ovaries from releasing eggs and pregnancy cannot occur without egg fertilization. The progestin also thickens the cervical mucus preventing sperm from entering into the uterus and it also thins the lining of the uterus preventing released egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus.


Once the capsules are implanted under the skin it can provide effective contraception over the period of five years without having to worry about taking pill, missed pill or using different method of contraceptives. It is very unlikely for women using implant to get pregnant unintentionally which may happen from missed pill when using oral contraceptives.

This method of contraception is more effective than the pill because the release of hormones is constant throughout the day. Women who cannot use estrogen as a method of birth control can switch to this method. If you decide to get pregnant, the process can be reversed within 24 hours after the removal of the implant.


The contraceptive implant does not provide full protection against sexually transmitted diseases. This method of contraception is expensive and it may cost about $650 or more and it has the same side effects as oral contraceptives.

The most common side effects experience by some women may include irregular bleeding or no bleeding at all, heavy bleeding or longer bleeding which normally decreases after the first three months of use.

Early removal of the implants can also results in side effects and these may include headaches, cramps, nausea, and weight gain. Removing the implant may also cause scarring and nerve damage. Forgetting to replace the implants after 5 years can result in unwanted pregnancy.

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