Introduced in the U.S. in 1991, Norplant is still a relatively new contraceptive that consists of six silicone capsules. These matchstick-size capsules need to be inserted in a woman's upper arm. The capsules work slowly by releasing very small amounts of progestin – it will be effective over the period of five years after which a trained medical professional removes it. Norplant is one of the most effective contraceptives available today. If you're interested in using this contraceptive, it is important to first get some information about Norplant side effects and how to deal with side effects.

Part 1: How Does Norplant Work?

Like mentioned, Norplant works by releasing a small amount of progestin in your body after being inserted into your upper arm. The capsules are a highly effective way of avoiding pregnancy, and like many available progestin-only contraceptives, Norplant is no different in how it works. Here's a bit more about how exactly this contraceptive works:

  • It works by suppressing ovulation in half of your menstrual cycles

  • Ensure that ovulation doesn't occur in most cycles, but if it does, Norplant works by making your cervical mucus thick to ensure the sperm doesn't pass through to complete fertilization.

  • It also works by suppressing the development of the lining of your uterus in about 50% of users.

It is usually safe to use, but sometimes, you may notice side effects of Norplant due to many different reasons.

Part 2: Effectiveness and Side Effects of Norplant

Just like any other progestin-only drug, it is obvious for women to be a bit skeptical about how it works and if it at all works. Here's what you need to know about the effectiveness, benefits, and side effects of Norplant.


Researches show that the women using this FDA-approved contraceptive have an annual pregnancy rate no more than 1% over a 5-year period.

Considered a breakthrough drug when it was first introduced in the 90s, it definitely lived up to the hype. It was in many ways as effective as sterilization, but the good thing was that you could reverse the effects of Norplant. It is, however, important to point out that how effective the drug is usually depends on who is using it. You may not find it extremely effective if you're overweight, are a teenager, or have used hard capsules instead of soft ones.

The biggest benefit is that it becomes effective 24 hours after you've had it inserted into the arm. If it works for you, there is no need to use another contraception method for the next five years. Moreover, you can have its effects reversed if it doesn't produced desired results in your case.


Norplant Side Effects

Norplant is no longer available in the United States and many other countries due to several Norplant side effects. You may continue to use it if you have already inserted it, but it is better to use other forms of contraception once it's taken out. That's because of different side effects of Norplant, such as the disruption of your menstrual cycle, which may result in amenorrhea, prolonged bleeding, and inconsistent spotting. In some cases, it has been associated with stokes, blindness, heart attacks, coma, paralysis, and depression.

The good thing is that you can reverse its effects by removing it, and be sure to have it removed after five years or else it will increase your chances of ectopic pregnancy. Some other common side effects include enlarged ovaries, tender breasts, dizziness, headaches, nervousness, breast discharge, weight gain, skin inflammation, increased hair loss/growth, and acne.

Part 3: How to Insert and Remove Norplant


How to Insert Norplant

First, your doctor will prepare your upper arm for insertion by using antiseptic. Your doctor will also use local anesthetic in the form of injections – you will have to take six of them. Next up, your doctor will use a scalpel to make a small 2mm shallow incision in your upper arm. They will insert a large-bore needle into the incision to place the six implants. They will place these implants under your skin in a fan shape. It is extremely important to insert these capsules properly.

If your doctor place it deep under your skin, it will become extremely difficult and painful to get it out after five years. Once the procedure is done, you need to keep it clean for the next 3 days or so, after which you can return your normal activities. Provided you have visited a professional, the whole procedure won't take longer than 15 minutes.


How to Remove Norplant

Removal of Norplant is relatively trickier and takes longer than insertion. Under normal circumstances, you need to remove it after five years, but you can take it out anytime if you don't wish to use it. Just make sure you don't leave it inside your arm after five years. The removal procedure involves making a small incision while you'll be under local anesthetic. You may require additional visits to get all six capsules removed, which usually happens if the capsules have been placed deeper under your skin. You may notice some numbness, scarring, arm pain, and tingling after the procedure.

If you wish to continue using Norplant after five years, it is important that you ask your doctor to replace the old ones with new ones. The new capsules can be inserted into the same arm through the incision. It is important to bear in mind that if you don't want to continue with Norplant, its effects will cease very quickly after its removal. So, be sure to use another contraception method if you don't wish to get pregnant.


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