Nexplanon is a progestin-only contraceptive implant (a newer version of Implanon). A study has recently associated Nexplanon with a 40% increased risk of blood clots. If you have suffered from a Nexplanon blood clot or other severe side effect, you are not alone. Blood clots can cause severe venous damage, or they may break loose and cause organ damage, organ failure, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, ischemic stroke, disability, or death.
Nexplanon is a progestin-only contraceptive implant. It is a newer version of the Implanon contraceptive implant. Nexplanon is a matchstick-sized device that is implanted just beneath the skin of a woman’s inner-upper arm. It slowly releases small amounts of etonogestrel, which is a synthetic type of the female hormone progestin. Fewer than 1 per 100 women who use Nexplanon will get pregnant. The hormones in Nexplanon increase the thickness of cervical mucous, which reduces the chances that a sperm will be able to enter the uterus. Nexplanon also inhibits ovulation — even if a sperm does enter the uterus, there is little chance that an egg will be present to become fertilized.
Nexplanon is sold by the drug company Merck, and it was approved for sale by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November of 2011.
Is Nexplanon different from Implanon?
Yes. However, Nexplanon and Implanon both contain the same amounts of hormones (68-mg of etonogestrel). They have the same health benefits, risks, and side effects. The difference is that Nexplanon is radio-opaque (containing barium-sulfate, which is non-toxic to humans), so a healthcare professional can use an X-ray or CT scan to locate the device after it is implanted. Another major difference is that it has a new preloaded applicator, which makes implanting easier and reduces the risk of implantation errors.
Studies of Nexplanon Health Risks
Recently, a study from Denmark was published in the British Medical Journal, which found increased risks of blood clots for women who use nearly all types of non-oral hormonal contraceptives, including contraceptive implants such as Nexplanon. The researchers found a 40% increased risk of blood clots.
The researchers analyzed the risk of blood clots and other thrombolic events in Danish women between the ages of 15-49, from 2001 to 2010. The women were not pregnant and had no history of blood clots or cancer. The researchers found that the only non-oral hormonal contraceptive that was not associated with an increased risk of blood clots was the IUD (uterine implant). Subcutaneous implants were associated with a 40% increased risk, skin patches were associated with a 7.9-fold increased risk of blood clots, and vaginal ring devices were associated with a 6.5-fold increased risk.
Nexplanon Blood Clots
A Nexplanon blood clot is a life-threatening medical emergency. Normally, blood clots are necessary to stop bleeding during an emergency. Nexplanon increases the risk of developing spontaneous, deep-vein blood clots when there is no injury. These are extremely dangerous. When blood clots form in veins (usually in the legs, in a condition called deep vein thrombosis), they can grow exceptionally large and cause severe, permanent damage to the blood vessels in the legs.
Another danger is that a blood clot will travel in the bloodstream until it is trapped inside a major internal organ. A lower-body, venous blood clot can be pumped into the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. An arterial blood clot can be pumped into the heart, brain, or other major internal organ. This can cause a heart attack, stroke, severe disability, or death.
Nexplanon Side Effects
The most severe side effects of Nexplanon are related to blood clots. These side effects include severe organ damage, permanent disability, or death. All women who take Nexplanon have a risk of these side effects. Women with certain risk factors (being over 35, smoking, etc.) have the highest risk.
Nexplanon side effects may include, but are not limited to:
- Blood clots
- Changes in menstrual bleeding; irregular, unpredictable bleeding
- Weight gain
- Vaginal infections
- Breast tenderness or pain
- Abdominal pain
- Moodiness, depression
- Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC)
- Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)