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  • All About Birth Control Implants: Find Out if This Is for You

    DOH calls it "Family Planning Implant" and it's a matchstick-sized capsule inserted under the skin in the upper arm.
All About Birth Control Implants: Find Out if This Is for You
  • Many go to Parent Chat and our Facebook page to ask about the different birth control methods. “How do I use contraceptive pills?” or “Do injectables really work?” or “What are my options aside from natural family planning?”

    Birth control choices are plenty, but it’s important to consult with your ob-gyn or head to your nearest health center to discuss your options. When it comes to contraception, you need to find one that makes you comfortable — one method might work for another woman but not for you.

    "When we counsel for contraception, doctors will never insist on a particular birth control method," says Dr. Jennifer Co, an ob-gyn and infectious disease specialist who holds clinic at the FEU-NRMF Medical Center in a phone interview with SmartParenting.com.ph. "We lay down the different forms of contraception, from natural to artificial, then discuss the pros and cons and then let the patient decide. On a case-to-case basis, especially when it might interfere with the patient's health, we suggest a method that might work for them."

    Recently, the Department of Health (DOH) released some fact sheets on the progestin subdermal implant, or what it calls “Family Planning Implant.” This birth control is a matchstick-sized capsule inserted under the skin in the upper arm and is said to be effective for up to three years. If you’re considering this birth control method, read on for what you can expect:

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    How Family Planning Implant works

    This type of implant releases a synthetic hormone called progestin that keeps a woman’s eggs in her ovaries and thickens the mucus at the cervix to prevent fertilization and pregnancy. 

    According to Dr. Co, progestin is considered safe for breastfeeding moms. “It has no effect on the production of breast milk,” she says.

    Dr. Co stresses that whether you are availing the implant at health centers or private clinics, it is important to verify whether the person performing the procedure is a trained professional. "It's a minor procedure but the implant will lose its efficacy if not inserted properly," she says.

    What to do after implant has been inserted

    • Keep the bandage on for 24 hours to avoid getting a bruise or contusion. Expect temporary swelling on your inner arm.
    • Avoid getting it wet for three to five days.
    • Clean the wound thoroughly and replace the bandage every day until the wound heals.
    • Avoid sexual intercourse for one week.
    • Consult with your doctor if you feel any side effects after getting the implant.
    • Follow-up with your doctor every three months and every year after getting the implant.
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    Side effects of Family Planning Implant 

    • Changes in menstrual period. Blood flow will either be reduced or increased. It’s also possible that you won’t experience your monthly period altogether.
    • Headaches
    • Acne
    • Weight Gain
    • Mood swings
    • Breast tenderness 

    The DOH reiterates that the family planning implant will not cause a heart attack or stroke. It should not have any adverse effects on internal organs nor cause any physical disability.

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    When to remove the implant

    The implant must be removed three years after insertion or upon your doctor's advice. According to Dr. Co, should you want to continue with this form of birth control, you can insert a new implant right away. But if you’re planning to get pregnant, ask a medical professional, either a doctor, nurse, or midwife, who is experienced in injecting or removing it, to assist you.

    Dr. Co says that women can get pregnant after three to six months after the implant has been removed. But like with any birth control method, results will vary. "Kung minsan hindi kaagad bumabalik ang fertility function. Sometimes it will take about six to nine months, even as long as one year," she shares.

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    Where to get the Family Planning Implant

    Most public health centers and private clinics around the country offer the implant. According to members of our Facebook group Smart Parenting Village, you may also get them at Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, a non-government and non-profit organization.

    If you’re a Philhealth member, you may avail of the “Subdermal Contraceptive Implant Package,” which can be used once every two years. It will cover Php3,000 in fees per case — Php1,200 goes to professional fees and Php1,800 to health care institution fees.

    This amount will be used for consultation and counseling prior to the procedure, use of facility, the procedure itself, medicine and supplies including the implant, and follow-up and counseling after the procedure. Click here for the requirements.

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    What real moms think of the implant

    Like any other birth control method, effects vary for different women. One mom from our Village says she experienced migraines and moodiness. She also gained weight and had an extended mentsrual cycle.

    However, some moms have noted positive effects. One said she has never been happier after switching from injectables (which made her gain weight) to implants. Another says she did not feel any side effects from having implants inserted.

    Family planning is part of responsible parenthood, and it is "an intervention to promote women’s health, more so for women who are at high risk to develop complications during pregnancy," says Esmeraldo Ilem, Medical Center Chief at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, in a previous Smart Parenting article. Whether you're spacing your pregnancies or doing it for health reasons, remember that the choice is ultimately up to you. 

    This article was updated on September 4, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

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