Choosing the Right Birth Control Method for You: Contraceptive Implants vs. Others

Are you seeking the perfect method of birth control that suits your needs? Look no further because today, we are delving deep into the ins and outs of contraceptive implants, dissecting them from every angle to help you make an informed decision. 

In a world filled with countless birth control options, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for you. You might wonder what birth control suits you. But fear not! We’re here to guide you through the maze of contraceptives and shed light on why contraceptive implants are becoming an increasingly popular choice. 

So sit back, relax, and let’s embark on a comprehensive journey to uncover the wonders and potential drawbacks of contraceptive implants versus other birth control methods.

Contraceptive Implants: A Closer Look

A contraceptive implant is a small, flexible, rod-like device inserted under the skin in the upper arm by a healthcare professional.

How Contraceptive Implants Work

Contraceptive implants release the hormone progestin into the bloodstream, which prevents ovulation, thickens the cervical mucus, and thins the uterine lining. This makes it difficult for sperm to reach the egg and for a fertilized egg to implant, thus preventing pregnancy.

How Long Does a Contraceptive Implant Last

A contraceptive implant can last up to three years. After three years, the implant must be removed and replaced with a new one if continued contraception is desired.

Key Advantages of Contraceptive Implants

This implantable contraception is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is a low-maintenance form of contraception that does not require daily attention. 

Potential Side Effects and Risks

Some women may experience temporary side effects like irregular or no menstrual periods, lighter or heavier periods, spotting between periods, headaches, weight gain, acne, and breast tenderness. 

Comparing Contraceptive Implants to Other Birth Control Methods

Now, let’s compare contraceptive implants to other commonly used birth control methods like pills, patches, vaginal rings, shots, and barrier methods.

Contraceptive Implant vs. Birth Control Pill

Your exploration of birth control choices begins with oral contraceptives, commonly called birth control pills, which remain a prevalent option for contraception. They are taken daily and contain hormones that prevent ovulation. As to common side effects, pills may cause blood clots, mood changes and nausea.

Here are the differences between implants and pills in terms of:


Implants have a 99% effectiveness rate, functioning for up to three years. They release progestin to prevent ovulation. On the other hand, pills have an effectiveness of about 91% as they require daily intake, and missed doses can compromise efficacy.


Implants offer a set-and-forget convenience, requiring a one-time procedure for up to three years of continuous contraception, whereas pills necessitate a strict daily regimen, which may be less convenient for some users.

Hormonal Differences:

Implants release a steady stream of progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, and pills often combine estrogen and progestin.

Contraceptive Implant vs. Contraceptive Patch

Contraceptive patches are transdermal patches applied to the skin which release synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones to prevent pregnancy. Patches may cause skin irritation where applied, in addition to similar side effects as oral contraceptives, such as an increased risk of blood clots.

Know the difference between an implant and a patch in terms of:

Mechanism of Action:

Implants release progestin to prevent ovulation, thicken cervical mucus, and thin the uterine lining. In contrast, patches release both estrogen and progestin to prevent ovulation, with hormones absorbed through the skin.

Ease of Use:

Implants, once inserted, require no daily or weekly action and last for several years, while patches require a weekly application—replaced once a week with one week off every month, demanding more frequent attention.

Hormonal Differences:

Implants only contain progestin, while patches, as previously mentioned, contain both estrogen and progestin, similar to combined oral contraceptives.

Contraceptive Implant vs. Vaginal Ring

The vaginal ring is a small, flexible ring a woman inserts into her vagina. It releases hormones estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. Common side effects include vaginal irritation or irregular vaginal bleeding, breast tenderness, headaches, and nausea.

Here are the things that you do not want to miss about the difference between an implant and a ring device:

Mode of Insertion:

Implants are inserted subdermally in the upper arm by a healthcare professional, whereas the vaginal ring is self-inserted into the vagina and can be done at home.

Duration of Use:

Implants can remain effective for up to three years after insertion, and the vaginal ring is used for one month at a time, with a new ring inserted each month after a one-week break.

Hormonal Differences:

Implants release a steady dose of progestin-only, while vaginal rings release both estrogen and progestin, similar to pills and patches.

Contraceptive Implant vs. Birth Control Shot

A birth control shot is an injection of the hormone progestin that prevents ovulation. The shot can cause some side effects, including changes in menstrual cycles, weight gain, mood swings, sore breasts, and bone density loss with long-term use.

Here is the basic comparison that you need to know about an implant and a shot:


Implants are a one-time subdermal insertion, while the birth control shot is an intramuscular injection; a healthcare professional administers both contraception.

Duration of Effectiveness:

Implants are effective for up to three years, while the shot is effective for approximately three months.

Hormonal Differences:

Both injectables and implants are progestin-only contraceptives.

Contraceptive Implant vs. Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of contraception physically block sperm from entering the uterus. Here’s a brief explanation of each:

Male & Female Condoms

In simple terms, the male condom is a sheath placed over the erect penis before sex to prevent semen from entering the vagina. In contrast, a female condom is a pouch placed inside the vagina before intercourse providing a barrier to semen.

Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is like a small cup made of silicone that is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and block sperm.


The diaphragm is a dome-shaped bowl, typically larger than a cervical cap, that covers the cervix. It is usually made of silicone and also inserted into the vagina before sex. 


A spermicide is a chemical substance that can kill or stop sperm from reaching the egg; available in gels, foams, or suppositories. It is often used with other barrier methods.


A contraceptive sponge is a soft, disk-shaped device made of polyurethane foam that contains spermicide placed inside the vagina to prevent pregnancy.

Barrier methods generally have lower effectiveness rates compared to implants, with over 99% rate. They are used only at the time of sexual activity, while an implant works continuously without the need for user action. They do not contain hormones and are an option for those who prefer or require non-hormonal contraception. They can cause allergic reactions or irritation for some users, whereas implants can have minor hormonal side effects that can be easily managed.

Contraceptive Implant vs. Natural Family Planning Methods

Natural family planning methods rely on monitoring fertility signals to reduce the risk of pregnancy. In contrast to the set-and-forget nature of contraceptive implants, which provide continuous protection without daily attention, natural methods require daily tracking and interpretation of fertility indicators. While no hormonal intervention is involved, it demands significant user commitment and precision.

It is important to note that each method mentioned above requires consultation with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate fit based on your medical history and lifestyle.

Longevity of Implants with Other Contraceptive Methods

Contraceptive implants are among the long-acting reversible birth control methods, and as discussed, they can last for three years. Birth control shots require reinjection every three months, while the contraceptive patch, ring, and oral pill necessitate weekly, monthly, or daily compliance, respectively. Barrier methods and natural family planning are used per sexual encounter or cycle, offering no long-term duration. Thus, implants provide a uniquely long-lasting, maintenance-free option compared to other contraceptives.

Deciding What’s Right for You

When deciding the right contraceptive method for you, it is essential to consider lifestyle, convenience, and personal health. Contraceptive implants are unique for their longevity, effectiveness, and low maintenance, making them a good option for long-term, hassle-free birth control. As you weigh your options, consider the implant’s benefits against the needs of your individual circumstances to make an informed decision.