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IIs it safe for an Implanon implant to remain in place after 3 years of use if it cannot be removed? #308/11

 If a patient has been using the Implanon implant for 3 years and it cannot be palpated for removal, is it appropriate to leave the device in place?

Michele Wyylen, MD

Implanon was 100% effective for 4 years in the 240 women reported to have used it for a 4th year (this will be a sentence in the 20th edition of Contraceptive Technology, soon to be out).


This means that your patient’s Implanon implant will continue to be a contraceptive for a 4th year and possibly for longer.  So the problem from leaving Implanon in place is that it remains an effective contraceptive for some, still not completely understood duration of time.


This would be a problem were the patient to want to become pregnant.  Otherwise, leaving Implanon in place indefinitely would not be a problem and she should start using a contraceptive, certainly after 4 years, but perhaps sooner.


One thing to keep in mind, your Implanon is effective for 4 not 3 years, so you need not take contraception into consideration at all.  You do not need YAZ at all to prevent pregnancy.  Why not leave Implanon in place for most of the next year?


See my answers to others reprinted below:



Q:        My Implanon implant is already 3 years old but I cannot have a new one inserted until September.  Can I use a backup contraceptive until that time and be protected?


Q:        I have the Implanon implant and it is due for removal on July 8, 2010.  However, I have booked a holiday and cannot get to the doctor until September 8, 2010.  Is it okay to use alternative methods of contraception or abstain until my implant is reinserted on the 9th of September?



Although definitely not formally approved for more than 3 years, none of the 240 women in the 3 reported studies of Implanon use in the 4th year after insertion became pregnant.  (Chapter by Dr. Elizabeth Raymond in the 20th edition of Contraceptive Technology).

It is looking more and more as though Implanon is effective for 4 years.  Isn’t this good news?

So you can use a backup contraceptive until your new Implanon implant is inserted and feel quite certain that you are protected.


Her reply on 3-29: “Thank you very much!”

To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of the Implanon implant, go to our website: www.managingcontraception.com and click on

Choices.  You can also order this wonderful new educational book from our website or by calling 404-875-5001.  Do you have your copy yet?       

Key Words:  Implanon implant, palpated, removal, device, in place, effective, Contraceptive Technology 20th edition, contraceptive, pregnant, backup method

Key Words: 
Implanon implant, palpated, removal, device, in place, effective, Contraceptive Technology 20th edition, contraceptive, pregnant, backup method

Robert A. Hatcher MD, MPH
Emeritus Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

The directors and owners of this website and any publications and information concerning health matters offered here advise a person with a particular problem to consult a primary-care clinician or a specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, or urology (depending on the problem or the contraceptive) as well as the product package insert and other references before diagnosing, managing, or treating the problem.
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