Implanon is a matchstick-sized birth control implant that has been linked to a 40% increased risk of blood clots and other life-threatening side effects, such as heart attacks, cardiac events, or pulmonary embolisms.
What is Implanon?
Implanon is a matchstick-sized rod that is implanted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm to reduce the chances of pregnancy. Implanon works by slowly releasing etonogestrel (a synthetic version of the hormone progestin). Progestin inhibits ovulation (when the ovaries release an egg) and thickens the cervical mucous. Fewer than 1 per 100 women who use Implanon to prevent pregnancy will become pregnant.
Since Implanon was first sold internationally in 1998, around 2.5 million women have used Implanon. The product is sold by the company Organon International. It was approved by the FDA in 2006. The newer version of Implanon is Nexplanon.
Implanon Linked to 40% Increased Risk of Blood Clots
In May 2012, study published in the British Medical Journal has found that women who use many types of non-oral hormonal contraception have a higher risk of blood clots. The researchers found that women who use subcutaneous contraceptives (such as Implanon) have a 40% increased risk of developing a blood clot compared to women who did not use hormonal contraceptives.
The researchers analyzed data from Danish, non-pregnant women, with no history of venous disease or cancer, between the ages of 15-49, between the years 2001 to 2010. They found that all non-oral hormonal contraceptives were associated with an increased risk of venous thrombolic events, except for women who had intrauterine implants (IUDs).
What is the Problem?
All progestin-containing contraceptives slightly increase a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot. Implanon contains etonogestrel, a synthetic version of progestin. Some studies have found that blood clots from Implanon are twice as likely to occur compared to women who use other types of synthetic progestin (such as levonorgestrel).
Implanon Linked to Heart Attacks, Cardiac Events & Pulmonary Embolism
Blood clots from Implanon can become life-threatening. Blood clots are most likely to form in deep veins in the legs, in a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If the blood clot remains in the legs, it may cause severe damage to the veins. If parts of the blood clot break loose, they may travel to the heart and be pumped into the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. If the blood clots form in an artery, they may travel to the heart (causing a heart attack or cardiac event) or the brain (causing a ischemic stroke). They may also travel to other parts of the body and cause severe damage, including the eyes.
What is the Risk?
One of the most serious risks of using Implanon is developing a blood clot, especially if the blood clot travels in the body and damages the heart, brain or lungs. All women have a risk of developing blood clots while using Implanon, but women with certain risk factors are most likely. These risk factors include smoking, being over 35 years old, or having a history of blood clots or cardiovascular disorders.
Serious Side Effects of Implanon
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
- Cardiac event
- Pulmonary embolism