After seriously weighing my birth control options and deciding to try Implanon, I called my doctor’s office to make an appointment for insertion along with a general check up and exam for my lady parts. It seemed like a good idea to get everything checked out while I was there.
I still wasn’t 100% sure about my choice but it felt like the right thing to try.
Unfortunately, the morning before my appointment I received a call from my doctor’s office telling me that the Implanon had been ordered but hadn’t arrived yet. Apparently the manufacturer had them on backorder and they didn’t know when it would come.
Frustrated, I was starting to wonder if there was some sort of birth control curse on me and if this would be like a rerun of the IUD incident. I went to get everything else checked out anyway. At least I could make sure that I was fully healthy before getting the implant. At my appointment we talked a little bit about what the insertion process looks like and he said that they would let me know as soon as they received it.
I got that call a week later. They had time for the insertion that same day so I snagged the opening.
Later that morning, I arrived at my doctor’s office, peed in a cup to prove that I wasn’t already pregnant, and sat down with my doctor to ask any questions I may have had. After signing papers, much like the ones I signed for the IUD, I received a card reminding me when I had my implant was inserted and when I would need to have it removed three years later.
My doctor walked me through the process, which apparently involved a lot of needles. I opted to have the implant inserted into my right arm since I’m left handed. He asked me to lie down on the table and wrap my arm up and around the top of my head. He swabbed it half a dozen times to sanitize the insertion site and waited a minute for the nurse to come in and verify that I was, indeed, not pregnant.
Needles, Needles, Needles…
He began the procedure at an angle that hid the injection site from me and told me that I should feel a pinch and a slight burning sensation. It wasn’t painful, per say, but I did feel what he described.
For the next set of injections he used a larger needle and expanded the area he had numbed with the first set. I could only feel the ones he did toward the outside of the site. A few of these stung a bit more than the first set, but, for the most part, I didn’t feel them. He’d switched angles for this set and for the rest of the procedure so I could see what he was doing. I always prefer to be able to see what’s going on at times like this.
The next set was done with a much longer and thicker needle. I think it was about three inches long. If I were remotely squeamish, this would definitely have been the time to stop watching but because I couldn’t really feel much of what was going on, I wanted to see it.
He performed this set of injections through a single entry site and, again, expanded the numbed area slightly. He used the length of the needle to spread the anesthesia throughout the site just below my skin. It was a little weird to be able to see the needle moving around inside my arm.
After emptying that syringe, he waited a minute and then tapped my arm several times around the site to make sure I couldn’t feel anything. I’d guess that almost six inches of my arm was numbed for the procedure.
While he had been injecting the anesthesia, I’d wondered why a small implant in my arm warranted so much numbing when my IUD insertion warranted none. It seemed like a huge amount of preparation for something so small. I couldn’t imagine that even without being numb this insertion would hurt more than the IUD insertion did. I mean, the implant is only 4 cm long by 2 mm wide.
The size of the last needle answered some of that question. I think it was about two and a half inches long and about a half centimeter in diameter. It probably wouldn’t have felt good.
My doctor very slowly inserted the needle just below my skin and used it to pull the skin away from my arm a little bit. Despite all of the numbing, I started to feel it when it was close to fully inserted. It was uncomfortable, but not highly painful.
I winced a little bit at one point, which my doctor noticed. He asked if I was okay. I told him that I could feel it a little bit but that he should just go ahead and finish the insertion.
He inserted the needle a little bit further and then pulled it out, leaving the implant behind and taking a small amount of my fat tissue with him. That felt like a bonus…
He finished the procedure by bandaging the implant site. Afterward he told me to keep it covered until it healed and to use antibiotic cream on it twice a day. Lastly, he had me feel the implant.
I went back to work after the appointment and didn’t have any issues. It was numb for the rest of the day.
It’s An Alien Implant, I Swear
If you touch the place where the implant is, you can feel it just below my skin. It’s not usually visible but sometimes I move my arm in a way that makes it poke out a little bit. Being the totally mature and not crazy adult I am, I decided to tell people that I was abducted by aliens and that it’s an alien implant.
I need to get out more…
After work, I inspected the site and poked at the implant a little bit. And snapped a photo, of course.
My doctor had told me that the numbing would outlast any soreness I might have. He was right; I felt very little. It did get irritated a few days later because the insertion site was rubbing against my underwire but that was minor. I also caught it with the sleeve on my cardigan a few times while getting dressed but I only felt a little pinch and some pressure.
Overall, the insertion was a much better experience than I had with the IUD. Next week I’ll have had the implant for about two months and I’ll let you know how my experience with side effects has been so far.