The etonogestrel contraceptive implant (Implanon® or Nexplanon®) has been the subject of recent media coverage (BBC) with particular attention paid to the number of reported pregnancies that have occurred in users of the implant. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a safety message for patients and healthcare professionals.
Implanon has been available since 1999 and it is estimated that over 1 million have been supplied in the UK. In this same timeframe 584 women have become pregnant while using, or under the impression that they are using this form of contraception.
The MHRA note that healthcare professionals have reported some problems inserting and removing Implanon. In some women who unintentionally became pregnant it was subsequently found that the Implanon had not been inserted at all.
Nexplanon is now available with an easier to use applicator. It is also radio-opaque allowing for easier location on x-ray or CT scan. Healthcare professionals are urged to undergo training in the correct insertion and removal of the implant. The MHRA will continue to monitor these products.
Patients are advised that if they can feel the implant and are within the three year lifespan of the product they need take no action. Patients who cannot locate the implant themselves are advised to ask for confirmation of the presence of the implant at their next routine check and use barrier contraception in the meantime if they are in any doubt about the presence of the implant.
Action: Clinicians should be aware of this media coverage. Women who are using these implants as their preferred method of contraception may seek reassurance.
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