Contraceptive Implant - Insertion, monitoring and removal

Where do I go to get a contraceptive implant?

The contraceptive implant has to be fitted by a specially trained nurse or doctor. This service may be offered at your local GP surgery and, if it is, it will probably explain how to arrange this on their website. Alternatively, a contraception, sexual health or community gynaecology clinic will do this for you. You can find details of services in your area - online or from NHS Direct.

In the UK the contraceptive implant is free of charge.

All contraceptive services are completely confidential. You will not need an internal examination, a breast examination or a smear before you can have a contraceptive implant. However, you will have to be certain that you are not already pregnant.

How is the contraceptive implant put in?

The contraceptive implant is about the size of a matchstick and is placed under the skin of the inner side of your upper arm.

Diagram to show where the contraceptive implant is inserted
  • The implant is usually first inserted within five days of a period starting, to ensure that you are not pregnant. In this case it is effective immediately.
  • If it is inserted later than the fifth day, you should be sure you are not pregnant and you should use extra, non-hormonal contraception (for example, condoms) or abstain from sex for seven days.
  • An injection of local anaesthetic is used to numb the skin.
  • A special device is used to place the implant under the skin. The wound is dressed and will soon heal just like any other small cut.
  • The area around the implant may be bruised and tender for a few days.
  • Once it has healed, knocking the implant will not do it, or you, any harm.
  • You do not need to have an internal vaginal examination or a genital examination to have an implant.

Do I need to be seen again after the contraceptive implant is inserted?

You do not need to be routinely seen by your doctor or nurse after having your implant inserted. However, you can return at any time to discuss any problems. You should see your doctor or nurse if any of the following occur:

  • You cannot feel your implant.
  • Your implant appears to have changed shape.
  • You notice any change in your skin or have any pain in the area around the implant.
  • You become pregnant.
  • You develop irregular bleeding or bleeding after having sex (intercourse).

How is the contraceptive implant taken out?

A replacement is needed every three years if you wish to continue with this form of contraception.

A trained doctor or nurse must take your implant out. They will give you a local anaesthetic injection in the area where the implant is. They will then make a tiny cut in your skin and gently pull the implant out. They will put a dressing on the arm, which you should keep on for a few days. 

Occasionally, an implant is difficult to feel under the skin, in which case you may be referred to a specialist centre to have it removed with the help of an ultrasound scan.
If you want to carry on using an implant, the doctor or nurse can put a new one in at the same time. If you do this there will be no break in your contraceptive protection.

The implant can be taken out at any time if you request removal. It loses its effect immediately after being removed.

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Author:
Dr Mary Lowth
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Jacqueline Payne
Document ID:
4575 (v42)
Last Checked:
22 August 2017
Next Review:
05 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.