More about the free contraceptive available in South Africa

Yesterday, Hello Doctor posted a short blog post about the roll out of free birth control to all women in South Africa, regardless of socio-economic status Book SUITE.

Following the post, we received a lot of questions about the type of contraceptive that’s being offered, and what the side effects are. We spoke to Hello Doctor’s Dr Lynelle Hoeks, to find out more about the implant contraceptive.

So how does it work?

The implant that’s being made available is Implanon, a small plastic rod about the size of a match stick, which is inserted in the upper arm. It works by:

  • Releasing a small continuous amount of hormone that stops ovulation
  • Altering the mucous in the cervix making it unsuitable for sperm
  • Thinning the lining of the womb

All of these changes make it very effective in preventing pregnancy, however you will most likely need to use back up contraception for the first week after the implant is inserted. After that, it will provide effective birth control for 3 years, before you need to replace it.

Is it suitable for all women?

No, there are some women who won’t be able to use this method of birth control. For example, if you’ve ever had blood clots (DVT, stroke or pulmonary embolism), if you’ve had a cancer that’s hormone sensitive, or if you have liver disease.

What are the side effects?

One of the most common side effects of Implanon is irregular bleeding. This means your period might be very light, or you might not have one at all. Other common symptoms include: headaches, acne and weight gain.

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Why is the implant a good choice of contraception?

Some of the advantages of this method of contraception are:

  • It’s immediately reversible (so it’s possible for you to fall pregnant within one month of having it removed)
  • It’s safe to use if you’re breastfeeding
  • You don’t need to remember to take a pill every day, or go for your injection every few months
  • It’s small, so you won’t even feel it or know it’s there
  • It’s easy to insert and can be done with a local anaesthetic by your doctor or a trained nursing sister.
  • It’s just as easy to remove as it is to insert

What to remember!

While the implant is very effective at preventing pregnancy, it DOESN’T protect against any sexually transmitted diseases, so if you aren’t in a long-term monogamous relationship you’ll still need to use a condom every time you have sex.

If you have any more questions about the implant contraceptives, why not speak to one of our doctors? They’re available to answer your questions right now. All you need to do is sign up for Hello Doctor now.