What is Nexplanon?
Nexplanon is a form of birth control. It is a rod that releases hormones once it is inserted in the arm, and it lasts for 3 years. It is 99% effective. It does not protect against STDs though. The official website for Nexplanon can be found here: https://www.nexplanon.com/ for official information like side effects, effectiveness, how it works etc. The rest of this post will be about my experience with it.
Birth control is an important factor in the lives of women and their sexuality. It is my goal in life to become a women’s health practitioner and a holistic health coach for women, and to ensure that women get the support, help, information they need to create the best choices for their life.
It has been two years since I had the Nexplanon inserted in my left arm, and I got mine in secret. I come from a family where abstinence is the only form of birth control. Sexuality and safe sex was never discussed. Growing up, I knew many young girls who become pregnant, which is the only visible sign of unsafe sex, imagine those who contracted an STD! Often these young girls came from households like mine. Households that believe sex is a sin outside of marriage, that look down on sexuality, especially women’s sexuality.
I was attending school at Cal State: Long Beach, and they offered Family Pact, which gives free service to low income students for family planning, care, and treatment. My family isn’t considered low income, but Family Pact allows those who need access to the care in secrecy. That’s where I fell. I love this service because young women are looking for the care they need, but can’t seek it with their families. These are the women who care about their health, their lives, and their futures.
With Family Pact, I went to a planned Parenthood and had my Nexplanon inserted. My parents still do not know I take birth control because with Nexplanon, it isn’t visible.
How is Nexplanon inserted, and how is the experience?
It was a very quick process. The only lengthy part is waiting for the nurse or doctor to come in and insert it. They numb the area of the arm and make a small incision to insert the Nexplanon rod. It wasn’t at all painful for me.
What care is needed after insertion?
I had the most difficulty with this part because I was a swim instructor when I had it inserted. All you had to do was to leave the bandage on for a few days to keep pressure on the incision to ensure that the cut would heal and ensure the birth control would not fall out. It also couldn’t get wet. If you are concerned that your parents would wonder what the bandage was for, I would suggest getting the Nexplanon during a cold season, so you could cover it with long sleeves.
What are the side effects?
The side effects may be a huge factor in your decision whether or not to take it. For me though, I’d rather experience it’s side effects than to risk giving birth when I am not financially secure or ready to have one. I was really worried about acne because I had an acne problem throughout high school and my freshman year of college. But, I did not experience any flares of acne throughout my use nor any weight gain. I have remained the same weight before I started. There are three huge side effects that I faced with Nexplanon:
- Depression. I believe it was not simply the birth control, but other factors in my life at that time, but I do think it contributed to it. I have gone to therapy and worked on myself, and although I can’t say that I have fully recovered, I don’t think you ever do, it always finds a way to sneak back in your life. I have made great changes in my life though and on a better path than I was before.
- Period changes. I already knew that period changes may occur, but I was told it settle after 6 months, but for me, my periods never stabilized. My periods are unpredictable. There were a few times that my periods lasted for 2 – 3 weeks. Or, I would have a regular period, but it would come back in a week or a few days. I would also spot frequently. Sometimes, I would skip a period, but the next one would be longer and a bit more painful in terms of cramps. The 3 weeks isn’t normal even for a birth control to factor in. So, if you often have periods that last for 3 weeks, I would suggest going to see a gynecologist
- Headaches/ Vertigo/ Nausea. I am not absolutely positive that birth control was the cause of these symptoms. I did have vertigo prior to birth control, but I think I noticed it began to worsen since I had the birth control inserted. I occasionally also get nausea that only lasts for a few minutes and then it goes away.
Of course, before deciding whether or not Nexpolanon is right for you, speak to your docotor! I also had discussed with a women’s health practitioner prior to committing to this birth control option. But, I do recommend Nexplanon despite the symptoms I have. It’s easy for me to conceal to my family, I can’t forget to take the pill, so less likely for pregnancy to occur, and it lasts for 3 years.