Complications of the contraceptive implant

7th May 2019

Written by Millie Kirby, a junior litigation executive in the Medical Negligence department

The contraceptive implant is a form of contraception used by thousands of women in the UK. It is a small rod which is inserted into the arm and slowly releases progestogen into the bloodstream over the course of three years. The implant is inserted by a trained doctor with a minor procedure and for many women it is a reliable form of contraception with which there are no issues or complications.

The first form of contraceptive implant was invented in 1967 in America; however, it was brought into the UK in 1993 and it has been altered and made much safer and more reliable since.

However, over the years the contraceptive implant has been used, some women have suffered major complications aside from the usual side effects contraceptive methods can cause.

As the contraceptive implant is inserted under the skin, there is a small risk that it can move around the body. In most cases where this happens, it is not a major issue. An ultrasound scan is usually used to try and locate the implant and removal can be fairly easy once the implant is located.

However, there have been some cases where the contraceptive implant has moved and cannot be located. In this case, concerns are raised as to whether a woman’s fertility will be affected due to the constant release of hormones into the body. Although it should be noted that the release of progestogen is significantly reduced after three years of the implant being inserted.

There have also been some extreme cases noted where contraceptive implants have wondered around women’s bodies and into a lung. In these cases, chest surgeons had to operate in order to remove the implant via a mini-thoracotomy.

Despite reports of these cases with complications of the contraceptive implant, many women in the UK use this method of contraception effectively and do not experience these complications.

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