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Contraception - implants and injections

Summary

Hormonal contraception for women is available as implants or injections that slowly release hormones into the body over time. Contraceptive implants and injections are very effective.

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Hormonal contraception for women is available as implants or injections that slowly release hormones into the body over time.

Contraceptive implants and injections are very effective if used the right way. When choosing the method of contraception that best suits you, it can help to talk to a doctor or nurse about your options. Other types of hormonal contraception include oral tablets (the combined pill and the mini pill), the hormonal IUD and the vaginal ring.

Contraceptive implant


The contraceptive implant (Implanon NXTTM) is a hormonal implant the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin at the inner side of the upper arm. This four cm-long implant contains etonogestrel, a progesterone-like hormone that stops ovulation.

This hormone also makes the fluid at the opening to the uterus (womb) thicker, stopping sperm from getting through. The implant is put in and taken out under local anaesthetic by a specially trained doctor or nurse.

Advantages of the contraceptive implant include:
  • It is close to 100 per cent effective.
  • It lasts for three years.
  • It costs about $38 for Medicare card holders (less for healthcare card holders).
  • There may be some extra costs when the implant is put in.
  • At most, it takes just one week to start working (depending on when the implant is put in).
  • It is safe to use when breastfeeding.
  • About 20 per cent of women who use the contraceptive implant do not have periods, which some women see as an advantage.
  • It usually makes periods less painful.
  • It can improve acne.
  • It can be used by most women who cannot take medication containing oestrogen.
  • Women usually start ovulating again within three weeks of having the implant taken out.
Disadvantages of the contraceptive implant include the following:
  • There may be some bruising and tenderness around the implant that can last for up to a week.
  • It can make periods irregular, with some women bleeding more often or at odd times.
  • It can cause headaches, acne, breast tenderness and increased appetite.
  • The implant can move from its original position under the skin.
  • There is a small risk of infection and bleeding around the implant.
  • The contraceptive implant does not give protection from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
  • Some medication, such as the ones used to treat epilepsy, and the natural remedy St John’s wort, can stop it from working.

Contraceptive injection


The contraceptive injection, known as Depo (Depo-ProveraTM or Depo-RaloveraTM), is a long-acting method of contraception. It contains only one hormone, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), which is a synthetic form of progesterone, a hormone that is made naturally by the body. Each injection of DMPA lasts for 12 to 14 weeks.

The contraceptive injection stops ovulation and makes the fluid at the opening to the uterus thicker, stopping sperm from getting through. It can also be used to treat women with menstrual problems.

Women who are thinking about starting the contraceptive injection will need to talk to a doctor or nurse first because the method does not suit all women.

Advantages of the contraceptive injection include:
  • It is very effective and convenient.
  • It is safe to use when breastfeeding, especially if the baby is over six weeks old.
  • About 50 per cent of women who use the contraceptive injection do not have periods, which some women see as an advantage.
  • There is no medication that stop it from working.
  • No one can know you are using it unless you tell them.
Disadvantages of the contraceptive injection include:
  • It cannot be reversed or withdrawn, which means side effects can last for 12 to 14 weeks.
  • It can make periods irregular, with some women bleeding more often or at odd times.
  • It can take some time for periods and the chance of getting pregnant to go back to normal after stopping the method.
  • It can cause thinning of the bones, where a small amount of bone density is lost, but this should go back to normal after stopping the method.
  • Some women put on weight or have headaches or mood changes.
  • The contraceptive injection does not give protection from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

Other types of contraception


There are many contraceptive methods available in Australia. When you are choosing the method that is right for you, it is important to have access to accurate information and to talk openly about your options with your partner.

It is also important to think about how well each method works, the possible side effects, how easy it is to use and how much it costs. It is important to weigh the pros against the cons and think about how each method meets your current and future needs.

The method you choose will depend on your general health, lifestyle and relationships. It can help to talk about your options with a doctor or reproductive health nurse.

Protection from sexually transmissible infections


It is important to practise safer sex, as well as to prevent an unintended pregnancy. The best way to lessen the risk of STIs is to use barrier methods, such as condoms. Condoms can be used for oral, vaginal and anal sex with other contraceptive methods to help stop infections from spreading.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Family Planning Victoria Tel. (03) 9257 0100 or freecall 1800 013 952
  • Family Planning Victoria’s Action Centre (for people aged under 25) Tel. (03) 9660 4700 or freecall 1800 013 952
  • Women’s Health Information Centre Tel. (03) 8345 3045 or 1800 442 007
  • Melbourne Sexual Health Centre Tel. (03) 9341 6200 or 1800 032 017
  • Community health centre
  • Pharmacist

Things to remember

  • Hormonal contraception for women is available as implants or injections that slowly release hormones into the body over time.
  • Different methods of contraception may suit you at different times in your life.
  • Condoms give the best available protection from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

You might also be interested in:

Want to know more?

Go to More information for support groups, related links and references.


This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Family Planning Victoria

(Logo links to further information)


Family Planning Victoria

Last reviewed: June 2015

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.


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Hormonal contraception for women is available as implants or injections that slowly release hormones into the body over time. Contraceptive implants and injections are very effective.



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