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 Overview/Lessons Learned | Contraceptive Methods | Key Issues
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Contraceptive Implants

Contraceptive implants consist of hormone-filled capsules that are inserted under the skin in the woman's upper arm. The first contraceptive implant system developed was the Norplant system, which consists of six thin, flexible capsules made of silicone. Each capsule is 2.4 mm in diameter and 34 mm in length and contains 36 mg of the progestin levonorgestrel. Norplant-2, a two-rod system that remains effective for three years, has been approved for use in several countries but availability is very limited. Several other implant systems are currently being tested. Implants are a safe and effective method of reversible, long-term contraception for most women. They do not interfere with intercourse and are effective within 24 hours after insertion. Some characteristics of contraceptive implants (Norplant) are highlighted below.


0.1% to 1.0% failure rate for soft-capsule implants during first year of use; 1.6% failure rate over five years of use

Age limitations         

No restrictions on use for women age 16 and over

Parity limitations

No restrictions on use

Mode of action

Primarily by thickening cervical mucus, thereby preventing sperm penetration, and also by inhibiting ovulation

Effect on STD risk

Not protective

Drug interaction

Certain antiseizure medications (barbiturates, carbamazepine, phenytoin, primadone) and antibiotics (Rifampin and Griseofulvin) may reduce the contraceptive effect of implants

Duration of use

Norplant implants are effective for five years. Most women can use implants safely throughout their reproductive years (if the woman is satisfied with the method and has no problems with it)

Return to fertility

Immediately upon removal

Return to Contraceptive Method List

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