It has recently been revealed that more than 500 women in the UK using the Implanon contraceptive implant became pregnant which is understood to be 99% safe. A number of those women subsequently miscarried. Others elected to terminate the pregnancy and many have experienced relationship breakdown and psychological problems.
It is estimated that over 1 million women use Implanon, which has been available in the UK since 1999 and provides contraceptive protection for three years at a time.
Once the implant, the size of a hair clip, has been correctly placed in the underside of the arm it is virtually invisible, although users should be able to feel it under the skin. Implanon has to be implanted correctly to be effective.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have received reports from some healthcare professionals of problems inserting and removing the implant. In some women who unintentionally became pregnant it was subsequently established that the implant was in the wrong place or that it had not been inserted at all.
In October 2010, following pressure from the MHRA, the manufacturer of Implanon produced a new version of the implant, Nexplanon which comes with a pre-loaded applicator to avoid insertion errors and is visible by x-ray.
The MHRA have advised that if patients can feel the implant, and it has been inserted within the last three years, they need take no action. Inability to locate the implant does not necessarily mean that it is absent, but any patients who are concerned may wish to ask for confirmation that the implant is in place at their next routine appointment, and should consider using barrier contraception in the meantime.
Please contact us on 0113 284 5000 if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article.