Nonmenstrual adverse events during use of implantable contraceptives for women: data from clinical trials

Contraception. 2002 Jan;65(1):63-74. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(01)00289-x.


Contraceptive methods, including implants, do not prevent common symptoms and adverse health events that most people experience. It is difficult, therefore, to decide whether or not the occurrence of symptoms or adverse events that are common can be attributed to use of a contraceptive method or to determine if a given method changes the likelihood of their occurrence. Based on the review of the literature, no apparent differences in the frequency of adverse events are evident between the six-implant or two-rod levonorgestrel systems and the single implant etonogestrel and nomegestrol acetate systems. The most frequent adverse events reported in clinical trials that are probably related to implant use are headaches and acne. Weight gain, dizziness, and mood changes are also frequently mentioned adverse events and are possibly steroid-related. Other possibly related adverse events, although much less frequently reported, are loss of libido, fatigue, hair loss, and other skin conditions. Persistent ovarian follicles that spontaneously disappear are a common event during use of progestin-only contraceptives, and providers should be aware of this condition to avoid unnecessary interventions. Overall, the vast experience reported in the clinical studies reviewed here show that all existing implantable contraceptives are equally safe. This can probably be attributed to the low-hormonal dose delivered by progestin-implant systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / chemically induced
  • Acne Vulgaris / chemically induced
  • Breast / drug effects
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / adverse effects*
  • Dizziness / chemically induced
  • Drug Implants
  • Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Hair Diseases / chemically induced
  • Headache / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Ovarian Cysts / chemically induced
  • Progesterone Congeners / adverse effects*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Drug Implants
  • Progesterone Congeners