My experience with the Nexplanon implant

This is my experience with Nexplanon. All women are different, so my experience is only my own and does not represent anyone but me.

 

Because I’m over 35, and I smoke, my gyno (np-M) gave me the news that I had to choose a new bc method, a non-estrogen-containing method. So last summer, I chose the implant, Nexplanon.

NEXPLANON is the small, thin and flexible arm implant that provides up to 3 years of continuous birth control. That’s why NEXPLANON is considered a long-acting birth control option. It’s placed discreetly under the skin of your inner, upper arm by your health care provider. It’s also reversible and can be removed by your health care provider at any time during the 3-year period.

{from the Nexplanon website}

Np-M gave me the handout to read over. Basically, it has the same side effects as every other birth control medication. Ok. Cool. Sounds easy. Sounds effective. Sounds great!

It was an office visit. She numbed the area. She inserted the thing. We both felt it was there. She put a bandage on. Done.

She did warn me (and my sweetheart who was there with me for support, just in case, you know, cutting and injecting and all) that the initial weeks may be moody due to the flooding of extra progestin in my system, but everything should balance out after the first month. With that in mind, I kept my motherwort tincture close at hand, and with her help sailed through that first month with no issues. Even my sweetheart admitted his apprehension about my potential moodiness, and his relief that it didn’t go that way.

I started my first period after 2 weeks, pretty much right on schedule. It lasted 16 days.

At my month checkup (normal after the implant), np-M reassured me that this was normal due to the high hormone load, and things would settle out. Give it a couple months. Ok.

Things didn’t settle out.

In a little over a year, I’ve had 10 “cycles”. My periods average 18 days long, with the shortest being 5 blissfully light days (one time), and the longest being 30 days, which was only stopped by a supplemental estrogen pill (I had to do that twice). There is no cycle, really. I have no indication of where in my cycle I am, when the bleeding with start or when it will stop or how heavy it will be. Sometimes it stops for 2-3 days, then comes back full force for another week. Sometimes there’s nothing for over 45 days. It’s super heavy at times, and nothing slows the flood. It saps my energy, I get anemic. The cramps are horrible. The back pain is horrible. The headaches are horrible. And my mood…well, put it this way, my sweetheart can usually tell when I’m about a week out because it’s just that bad.

Every time I went back with my concerns, np-M told me to give it another couple months, another couple months. So I did. And it just kept getting worse.

Over the last 4-5 months, I’ve been just barely maintaining: I’ve been drinking my herbal infusions, doubling up on stinging nettle when I feel particularly low on energy. I nap a lot. My sweetheart makes me delicious liver and onions whenever I ask. I stay away from the motherwort when I’m bleeding (although sometimes I could really use her support) because she tends to cause heavier bleeding. The ibuprofen only helps with the pain, so I tried shepherd’s purse tincture, with no results. I did tincture some of the knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare) which grows rampant in my flower beds, and it did slow the bleeding, but only time would get it to stop. But every “cycle” has gotten worse.

At my annual checkup last month, I explained my symptoms and np-M agreed it is definitely the Nexplanon, and I should probably get it out. Well, yeah, duh. Why did I feel like I needed validation on this? My health, my quality of life, my decision…right?

I have an appointment next week to have it removed. But now I’m back to needing to make a choice, a decision about birth control. And I have no answer.

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