Addressing post marketing side effects of the popular birth control and sharing my own experience.
For decades, Doctor's and scientists alike have worked to help women , young adults and families plan their family timing and life. For many birth control is the best option to do that. I want to talk about one particular birth control , the manufacturers, the clinicians we as women deal with and hopefully raise awareness of the post marketing side effects since neither the drug manufacturer nor Drs. Inform their patient's of these side effects.
To begin lets discuss Nexplanon a little. From their website
"NEXPLANON is the birth control implant that goes in the arm. It’s just as effective as the pill, but without the daily hassle. This small, thin, and flexible arm implant is placed discreetly under the skin of the inner, non-dominant upper arm by your healthcare provider."
This is accurate however rather it is discreet or hassle free is debatable.
Here's a photo of what we are discussing and what follows is a photo of where they place the implant.
Before proceeding I do think it's important to note and mention that Nexplanon was not always a stand alone birth control option. In fact it had a sister or cousin. Norplant. Norplant led to the makers and manufactures Merck to discontinue Norplant and settle for around $50 million dollars.
The only notable difference between Norplant and Nexplanon is the ingredients/hormones' used. Norplant used levonorgestrel while Nexplanon uses etonogestrel. From my knowledge the genetic makeup of the implant from design and materials used are still the same.
Now insertion comes with its own sets of side effects and possible issues. First and most common being the implant is placed wrong and too deep. Something most providers should check after placing. However when this happens it makes it easier for the implant to migrate causing the patient to experience negative side effects and possibly need surgery. Other side effects include infection ( Not warned about ) and possible allergy to the anesthetic used.
To continue this once it is placed you will experience about a week and a half to two weeks of healing time. In that time you are suppose to take other birth control or use condoms as it doesn't fully work until its been implanted for 7 or more days.
You are told / informed that COMMON side effects which are the side effects reported during clinical trials are :
From their site
"Longer or shorter bleeding during your period
No bleeding at all during the time of your period
Spotting between your periods
Varied amounts of time between your periods
Other frequent side effects that cause women to stop using NEXPLANON include: Mood swings ,Weight gain ,Headache ,Acne ,Depressed mood
Other common side effects of NEXPLANON: Headache ,Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) ,Weight gain ,Acne ,Breast pain ,Viral infections such as sore throats or flu-like symptoms ,Stomach pain ,Painful periods ,Mood swings, nervousness, or depressed mood ,Back pain ,Nausea ,Dizziness ,Pain ,Pain at the site of insertion"
Here's What you are not counseled on or told.
Post marketing side effects and issues that it may cause with preexisting conditions. For example at my DR and clinic. It is very well documented that I do not have a ghal bladder nor my appendix. This medication /implant has been shown to cause issues for those who already have a ghal bladder issue or have had it removed.
You're also not informed of any post marketing effects such as
The possibility of it migrating. In fact most women when they ask their drs if this is a risk they are told that it's "rare" however I don't think 1,000s of women experiencing the same thing is "rare"
In the same we are not informed of the chance of developing hypertension , the chance of heart attack or stroke nor are we told that there is a increased chance of having weight gain, musculoskeletal pain, migraines ( something that I had before Nexplanon ) or vascular disorders.
If the fact that not only directing physician's aren't properly disclosing side effects which should include at least 1 to 5 post marketing side effects its honestly irresponsible that the Maker of the implant Merck isn't openly disclosing the post marketing side effects, neither are the physician's in charge of placing it.
Every implant comes with a pamphlet or insert of information. Which is where the above two images were taken from. However these inserts are disposed of in clinics including planned parenthood and when the patient asks for it or a copy they are denied or given a generic paper with less than half of the possible complication's and side effects listed.
If that doesn't sound like a shady horror story in itself, after insertion patients' are directed to wait a few weeks or months to let the hormones and implant begin to work and find a "flow" with ones body. However for a lot of women they never obtain that harmony and are ridden with side effects that affect their daily life.
Typically if you start a new medication and you feel badly after your Dr will address the issues or direct you to stop taking the medication .
Why is birth control different?
Why is a woman's care so different when it comes to reproduction?
I can't count on my hands the number of times I have been told that I can't have a tubal due to age, number of children or needing my partners permission. Although my partner would sign literally anything to get me a procedure I want I REFUSE to let a man nor woman whom is not my parent to make decisions for me or be the reason I receive treatment. Honestly at 22 , 25 , and 28 No one should be making my decisions or giving permission except me unless I'm so sick I can't.
Why are 100s of women told to wait it out a few more weeks or months, or told that they have to wait a whole year before having the implant removed. Why are women who are experiencing side effects that affect their relationships with their partners , children, friends and family being told that we don't know our bodies well enough to make the informed decision to remove something that makes us feel awful? Why do physicians choose to ignore us and force us to keep something within our bodies that is causing damage or us to feel like garbage.
I myself felt hot , nauseous and dizzy in waves. Part of it was that the implant had broken and was causing hypertension the other part was likely just how the implant affected me. I had to go to 4 different Drs' appointments after urgent care and ER trips and threaten self removal to get them to remove mine. It was broken , causing awful side effects and they would have left it in had I not threatened to take it out myself. The fact that self removal videos for Nexplanon exist on YouTube shows that too many women are being denied to remove this device and are risking doing it themselves. By the time I got this removed my insurance has been billed over $4,500.00
My story isn't a solo story though. Hundreds of thousands of women face things such as this everyday.
From being told that we don't what we want in our reproductive lives from normally a male physician but there are plenty of female physicians who believe the same to being told that we are being dramatic or need to "wait it out"
Another injury that is becoming prevalent with Nexplanon and isn't listed on their website without deep reading and your Dr's don't mention to their patient's is the risk for is a injury to the peripheral nerves and blood vessels have been reported as rare complications of implantation and extraction.
What's even more concerning than the injuries that women are facing, the downplay of side effects and the poor education on risks with the implant is that they are now targeting teens and young adults by using celebrity influences to help get people to get this implant. The most notable as much as I love her career and work is Vanessa Hudgens. While she may use this product and might be a lucky one of the few that haven't had any side effects or issues. I doubt she is the face of this implant without some hefty compensation and I have a issue with that when they are using her and her commercial's to convince young women this is completely safe.
I was sick for 6.5 months , had 2 urgent care visits, 1 ER trip and 4 regular appointments and still had to threaten to use a YouTube tutorial to take it out myself to get the clinicians to listen to me. I have permeant issues and likely always will. Yet still there are women who have it far worse from this implant than I do. Women who have had nerve damage, heart damage, strokes and even passed away from this medication.
Merck is irresponsible with disclosing the risks and side effects of this drug. Even their website for educating clinics is lacking in information.
Drs' aren't doing their jobs by protecting their patients health by ensuring that they are educating on a medication to the best of their ability and furthermore causing damage by denying to listen to their patient's complaints and or remove the device when asked the first time.
You can read more stories of experiences here
If you have the Nexplanon implant and are experiencing side effects or symptoms or previously had one and are still struggling with those side affects and symptoms. You can find support in these groups on Facebook.
Overall this is a dangerous birth control method and If I could find the time , money and attorney I would sue the manufacture and the Dr who put it in and the ones who refused to take it out in a heartbeat. Because the class action lawsuits have since closed I can't do that at the moment so instead I am choosing to spread information and experience so hopefully others can make a informed decision about rather its a good choice for them or not since drs and the creators are failing omen everywhere by not doing so.
You can also make a report/complication with the FDA here