Women left infertile after Implanon contraceptive implants go AWOL inside their body
6th September 2012
Thousands of women in the UK will be left in horror to learn that the popular Implanon contraceptive implant has apparently become ‘lost’ in some patients. Several doctors have struggled to locate the device, meaning certain older women may be losing their last chance to have children. The Implanon device is a small biodegradable rod that is roughly the size of a matchstick. It is inserted underneath the skin and into fat in the upper left arm of a woman, and usually provides protection against pregnancy for three years, but can sometimes last up to five.  It works by releasing the progesterone hormone over the duration of time and this prevents the ovaries from emitting any eggs. They have been the primary choice for such contraception methods for the NHS for five years now, especially used for under 20 year olds and the over 30s. Women may request the removal of the device sooner than the typical three year period of use, if for instance they plan to have a child or certain health reasons deem the removal necessary. However, US manufacturer Merck has been dealt a huge blow after many women have been complaining on internet forums about their experiences with the implants. In specifically, they have stated that doctors are having problems locating the implants, with them somehow managing to move and becoming lost inside the woman’s body. If this wasn’t worrying enough, figures show that up until last month, there have been in total a reported 2,314 spontaneous adverse reactions to Implanon and the later version, the ‘Nexplanon’. It has come to light that 36 of the spontaneous reactions were episodes of the rod somehow managing to move and relocate itself and there have been 5 cases of infertility due to doctors being unable to find and remove the device. Even worse, Implanon hit headlines last year when it emerged that almost 600 women still managed to become pregnant, forcing the NHS to fork out thousands of pounds in compensation. At the time, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also spoke out on the devices, saying that they had been inundated with complaints from doctors and nurses who had experienced great difficulty when trying to insert the Implanon rod. In regards to the latest fears regarding the Implanon contraceptive devices, the MHRA have again spoke out and released a statement designed to alleviate worries and said, “Rare cases of migration with Implanon and the difficulty of removal was one of the key reasons for developing a radio-opaque version of Implanon, called Nexplanon. Nexplanon was introduced in the UK in 2010 and can be identified using X-ray or CT scan in the rare cases that it cannot easily be located in the usual way. As with all medicines, the MHRA will continue to monitor the benefits and risks of Implanon and Nexplanon. We would advise anyone with questions about their contraceptive implant to speak to their GP.” With so many health issues connected to these types of female contraceptive methods, perhaps it is time for women to consider alternative methods of effective contraception. One such option is the oral contraception Dianette which can also be used to treat acne, female hair loss and excessive hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism).