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Dr. Nicole Sparks explains everything you need to know about the birth control implant

Emerald Pellot
·3-min read

Dr. Nicole Sparks is a women’s advocate and OB-GYN. The always-cheerful doctor educates women about their bodies on TikTok, covering everything from ovulation to the first trip to the gyno.

Dr. Sparks gave In The Know the rundown on the benefits of the birth control implant, Nexplanon. It’s the most effective reversible form of birth control.

What is the implant?

“It’s a thin flexible rod that we place into your non-dominant arm,” Dr. Sparks told In The Know. “The rod is about 4 centimeters long, so it’s not very big. The implant is also an example of what we call LARC or a Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. It is very, very effective. It’s actually the most effective reversible form of contraception that we have.”

How is it placed?

The patient typically lays down with their non-dominant arm curled upward (like if they were flexing). The Nexplanon implant is then placed under the skin’s surface in the bicep area.

“There is a device that we use and we place it right under the skin, OK, to make sure that we don’t place it too deep,” Dr. Sparks said.

How long is it effective?

“It lasts for three years,” Dr. Sparks told In The Know. “Like I said it’s easily placed in the office and also easily removed in the office.”

How is it removed?

To have the Nexplanon implant taken out, the patient usually lays down in the office.

“Then we’ll make a little incision right around the place where we inserted it,” Dr. Sparks told In The Know. “And then we can usually just [pull] the rod out.”

What are the benefits?

“You don’t have to remember to take something every day,” Dr. Sparks told In The Know. “Once we place it in your arm, it’s there, it’s working, it’s effective.”

She added that if you’re worried the implant may have disappeared or moved, you can literally just touch your arm and feel the Nexplanon device.

“Also if you have heavy periods, it can make your periods lighter,” Dr. Sparks said. “And if you have really painful periods, it can also make those better too.”

What are the potential downsides?

The implant can cause “unscheduled, irregular bleeding” according to Dr. Sparks. It should improve the longer the implant is in.

“But usually, if it’s not better by the six month to year mark, please talk to your doctor about why that may be and some solutions that we may have for you,” Dr. Sparks advised.

How much does it cost?

While Nexplanon can be free with insurance it can cost over $800 without it.

“So I hope you learned today that contraception is a really safe way to keep you from getting pregnant,” Dr. Sparks told In The Know. “And remember there are so many different types that we can usually find one that’s right for you.”

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