Implantable contraceptives for women: effectiveness, discontinuation rates, return of fertility, and outcome of pregnancies

Contraception. 2002 Jan;65(1):29-37. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(01)00284-0.


Progestogen-only contraceptive implants are highly effective. In most studies, 5-year cumulative pregnancy rates are less than 1.5/100 women for Norplant and Norplant II. No study has yet reported any failures with Implanon. Weight over 70 kg and age at insertion under 25 years both increase the failure rate of Norplant and Norplant II; however, data are as yet lacking for Implanon. The effectiveness of other progestogen-only implants for which there are as yet few data are unlikely to be any different. Continuation rates are high compared with other hormonal methods and with the intrauterine device. In most cohorts at least 35% of women, and often many more, are still using Norplant by the end of 5 years. Rates vary according to a number of factors, including population studied, age, and parity. Menstrual disturbance is by far the most common reason for discontinuation, with headache, acne, weight gain, and desire for pregnancy accounting for other common reasons for implant removal. Fertility returns rapidly following implant removal, and pregnancy rates (76-100% 1 year after removal) are usually no different from those following discontinuation of any other contraceptive method. There is no increase in the risk of ectopic pregnancy, fetal malformation, or impaired infant health in pregnancies conceived either during implant use or after removal.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / adverse effects
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / therapeutic use*
  • Device Removal
  • Drug Implants
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Menstruation Disturbances / chemically induced
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Progesterone Congeners / adverse effects
  • Progesterone Congeners / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Gain


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Drug Implants
  • Progesterone Congeners