#ITriedIt: Nexplanon

Last winter, I made the decision to switch my birth control. I had been taking the pill for years, but after consistently forgetting to take it several times a week, I figured it was time for a change. I looked up alternative methods of birth control, and once I heard about Nexplanon, I was intrigued. It gave the same benefits and security as an IUD, but without the pain and risks. Instead of being inside of the uterus, Nexplanon is a flexible rod implanted in your non-dominant arm. It emits a daily, low dose of hormones into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy and is 99% effective. This all sounded great, so I made an appointment with my OBGYN to schedule my insertion.

The Insertion

The actual procedure was not nearly as painful as I expected. Your arm is numbed and the Nexplanon is inserted with a little gun, kind of like getting your ears pierced. After a few hours, I could feel some pressure, but nothing some ibuprofen couldn’t fix.

Photo courtesy of the author

On the first day after, I was noticeably bruised and sore. Lifting or using my left arm in anyway was painful and difficult (I could barely wash my hair, lol). To reduce bruising and swelling, I had a piece of gauze taped over the incision, and kept my arm wrapped (which is why there’s a  square within the bruise). I also took some medicine to reduce the pain. Overall, the day was tolerable.

On day three, the soreness and swelling had gone down. I switched to regular bandaids and was replacing it each day. The bruises started fading and I had more mobility in my arm. I had also been traveling during this time, so I was still keeping my arm wrapped and limiting my movement, just in case.  

By day 10, I made significant improvement. It had been over a week since the insertion and I was feeling much better. I stopped wearing bandaids and wrapping my arm. I could almost fully move my arm without any pain, which was relieving.

On day 13, my arm was almost completely healed. Almost two weeks later and I no longer had any bruising, pain or swelling. I was pretty much back to normal!

Related: 5 Reasons Why Dating Apps Are Exhausting

The Side Effects

Like any medication, Nexplanon does have some side effects. Some of the most common ones are irregular periods (longer or shorter cycles), mood swings, weight gain, acne and depression. When researching online, I saw most of the backlash was about increased acne. Since I have acne-prone skin, this concerned me. My skin was pretty calm leading up to the insertion, but within a few weeks, it progressively got worse. Since it was hormonal acne, it was more painful than a typical breakout. My gynecologist warned me that it can take up to six months for your body to adjust to the birth control, so there can be more side effects during that time frame. After about 4 months of waiting to see if my acne settled down, I ended up going to my dermatologist. I got a topical treatment and now my skin is back to normal!

The other side effect that I experienced was longer periods. Pretty consistently, my period has been twice as long as normal, if not longer. I have always had pretty bad cramps, so I get them for the length of the period as well. I also tend to spot for around 3-4 days after my period has ended. To me, longer periods are manageable since they are consistent, and I track them using the Clue period tracker.

My Final Opinion

After almost one year of being on Nexplanon, I would definitely recommend it to someone who is interested. The security of knowing I likely won’t get pregnant for up to three years, without having to take a pill everyday, is amazing. Even the side effects, like acne and a lengthened period, are worth it in the end. If you’re interested in trying it out, consult your doctor or OBGYN and see if it works for you. To learn more, you can check out the Planned Parenthood site.

Via Giphy

Stay safe and stay educated on birth control, collegiettes!

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