The one where I get my contraceptive implant taken out

Yesterday I had my contraceptive implant removed. Don’t worry, it’s nothing gruesome, just a tiny plastic hormone releasing matchstick that goes under the skin in your arm. Maybe it’s a weird thing to write about, but it actually raised some interesting issues for me. If you’d rather not read about my contraceptive dilemmas though, probably best to look away now.

I had my first implant six years ago when Belle was one, and had it replaced when she was four. As this one approached the end of its useful life, I had been intending to have it replaced again, but then it struck me that actually this time round I’m not in a relationship, I’m not even really dating, and I began to wonder if such a permanent method of contraception was really necessary.

I looked up Implanon and its side effects and discovered that it is quite likely to cause one or all of the following six issues:

  • headache
  • spots
  • weight gain
  • breast tenderness
  • dizziness
  • depression

Hmmm… suddenly not looking so tempting is it? Is this just the price you pay for being a woman, that you have to pump yourself full of mind and body altering chemicals Just In Case? I can’t help but think that if it were men who had to expose themselves to such risks, that a lot more research would have been done by now to come up with something a bit less potent. Anyway, I decided to take the plunge and just have it removed. So now I am officially contraception free.

It is a bit of a risk, as I do have a history of being rather fertile. My first pregnancy was an unplanned but much loved result of the folly of youth, and second time round I conceived within a month of coming off the pill. It wasn’t unplanned as such, just rather quick. I had stopped taking the pill in a ‘let’s see what happens, it would be nice if I was pregnant in maybe six months or so’ frame of mind – you hear of people trying for months and months, being disappointed every time their period arrives – well, I have never experienced that disappointment.

And now I am left with some unexpected and conflicting emotions. Firstly, as soon as it was removed, I felt incredibly fertile. Today I have worn a long flowing skirt and feel like I want to sway my hips as I walk. I’m eyeing up babies is buggies, I can almost feel my stomach swelling. But that could just be the cookies. It’s all in my mind of course, but I hadn’t expected to feel quite so womanly about the whole thing.

The other side is a bit more complex. It’s the realisation that I have it taken out basically because I am not having sex. With it in, I could make believe it was just a dry spell, but making an active decision to stop using a contraceptive device is much more conclusive. There is something a tad depressing about that, but it has also made me feel strangely empowered. Using contraception when you’re single can sometimes feel a bit desperate, as though you are keeping up a pretence, waiting hopefully for any kind of intimacy that might get thrown your way. I feel like I’m stepping back from that, setting a higher standard, showing that I’m not about to fall into bed with the next man to knock on the door (normally the delivery person from the Sainsbury’s wine club). I am going to wait. I will be special.

Of course there is a tiny part of me that also wants to tempt fate. The doctor taking it out summed it up for me. “You know what will happen now of course,” she said, “you’ll walk out of here and bump straight into Mr Right.”

“Maybe,” I said, “but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.”



  1. 25 May, 2010 / 9:35 am

    If bumping into Mr Right is what you want to happen then perhaps you need to get it back in!! Having not used contraception since Amy was born 10 years ago I guess you could almost say I am the complete opposite to you – not at all fertile!

    CJ xx

    • 25 May, 2010 / 9:46 am

      Well I wouldn’t mind it happening, but I’m not sure my life at the moment is conducive to it – I think I need to get a job that doesn’t involve me sitting at home in my little office!

  2. 25 May, 2010 / 9:42 am

    There are plenty of other methods of contraception you can use!

    I was surprised how often long-term contraception was mentioned to me after Blondie Boy was born. Personally I’ve used the pill for over 10 years and never had issues. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

    • 25 May, 2010 / 9:47 am

      I think after reading the side effects there is also part of me hoping that that now I’ve had it out I will lose weight, stop getting spots, and feel terribly jolly all the time :-)

  3. 25 May, 2010 / 10:07 am

    I realised the other day I need to start thinking about this – still breastfeeding so still protected by that but won’t be forever

    I still want Baby3 but when is a good time / can we really face another awful pregnancy – perhaps easier for me to just ignore the issue and things may take care of themselves

    • 25 May, 2010 / 3:10 pm

      When is a good time… who knows… is there ever a good time to endure an awful pregnancy?! If you know you want to do it sometime, maybe it’s best just to get it all out the way as quickly as possible!

  4. 25 May, 2010 / 10:21 am

    Coming off the pill causes a fertility bounce back where your body has a fertile surge so actually you are more likely to get pregnant then than six months after.

    • 25 May, 2010 / 3:11 pm

      That’s interesting, I didn’t know that. Does that mean I may well have a prolonged long skirt, hip swaying phase?

  5. 25 May, 2010 / 2:53 pm

    Have a read of my post back in January… when I had mine removed….

    And if you do decide to go back on the pill… make sure you run as much as Forest Gump and live off lettuce!

    Most websites say that you cant put weight on from going on the pill… its a myth… its just because you must eat more pies… blah blah blah blah PANTS!

    I went to my docs cause I had gone from a perfect size 12 in Jan… to BURSTING out of a 14 in 4 months. (no pies) Seemingly I have ‘sensitive hormones’. (My hubby could have told him that!) anyway.. it’s all good… I think it does your body good to have a bit natural time! :)

    • 25 May, 2010 / 3:18 pm

      Hmmm… that’s an interesting post. I’ve definitely been much more up and down emotionally over the last couple of months, but I hadn’t related that to the implant expiring – they don’t tell you those lovely details do they?? It could also explain that one random black hair on my chest (gross)…

      I’m the same as you though, I would never remember to take a pill every day. I boil potatoes, get distracted and only remember them when the kitchen fills with smoke. It will be the first time in about 14 years that I haven’t had an implant, been on the pill, pregnant or breastfeeding, so I’m quite looking forward to seeing what my adult body and mind are like in their natural state!

  6. Lucy
    25 May, 2010 / 8:21 pm

    YAY!! Embrace the hormone-free life!I’ve always felt much more like “me” without hormonal contraception. I wouldn’t go back to it now.

    I am pratically strolling round the streets naked while I’m ovulating, it’s huge fun…

    • 26 May, 2010 / 7:07 pm

      Today I wore a bright red, extremely low cut dress and walked around all day imagining every man must be wanting to sleep with me. I felt like you basically. It was great :-)

  7. 26 May, 2010 / 5:57 am

    It seems to me, and I am not an expert on women, dating, being Mr. Right, or quantum mechanics (which likely doesn’t apply here), but couldn’t Mr. Right wear a condom?

    In any case, you should probably make him buy you several expensive meals, then blog about them, provide a picture, and let your loyal readers judge your choice, before you get to that stage. This will help immensely I am sure, or maybe it will just allow me to live vicariously through your exciting life.

    As I said I am not an expert, or even mildly knowledgeable about this subject, and a vast array of other subjects (Geography, Marsupials, 13th century literature, or effective gardening techniques to grow giant root vegetables), so it my be best to defer to the wisdom of your other readers.

    Mostly I just like leaving comments on your blog.

    • 26 May, 2010 / 7:38 pm

      Brian, I LOVE this idea. I’m thinking perhaps I should sign up to an online dating site and copy and paste into my blog the profiles of men I think have potential, so everyone can offer a critique – what do you think? I reckon it could even make a great stand alone spin-off blog…

      I’m actually slightly concerned that I already might be a rather intimidating prospect – any man would only have to make the effort to google me and they would come across the piece I wrote last year for a national paper, being quite rude about men I have dated, and brutally edited to make me sound like an uncaring, selfish wench. Not terribly alluring…

  8. 26 May, 2010 / 2:40 pm

    re crystal jigsaw – I don’t use contracepton either and have not gotten pregnant for seven years but that’s cos my husband had the snip! Vasectomy – the greatest gift ever given to woman – well apart from maybe Godiva chocolates – it’s a toss up I guess.
    I wouldn’t go back to the implant yes it does sound like a potent chemical cocktail you could probably take a break from. my advice: look for a man who’s been snipped as condoms are a bit of a bore although a necessity. I’ll write the ad for you “Wanted, sexy emotionally mature man must like kids and have had vasectomy. No hairy backs or Trekkies need apply.”

  9. Carrie
    14 August, 2013 / 9:59 pm

    The implant was forced on me, and rushed! Worse part of my life have been past couple months it’s been in my arm! I bled for 4 months untill they put me on the pill aswell in which this is confusing my hormones so I don’t sleep at night at all and I am exhausted! I also have lost my ‘sex drive’ and has caused a massive wedge between me and my partner:( I haven’t gained weight while I have been on the implant (one positive) I am getting this removed in 2 weeks and was wondering if anyone in similar situation lost or gained weight? And does it hurt to be removed? And do they numb your arm? Thank you girls

  10. 10 November, 2013 / 9:04 pm

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