PIP: The Contraceptive Report has published a 2-page pamphlet for physicians to distribute to patients considering contraceptive implants. Implants are effective for up to 5 years and consist of 6 small, soft, flexible plastic rods. Trained clinicians insert them under the skin of a woman's upper arm. Women have used implants for 20 years. The US approved them several years ago. As of mid 1993, about 800,000 US women have used implants. The rods slowly release a progestin into the body which suppresses ovulation and thickens cervical mucus. Insertion lasts 10-15 minutes and takes place in a physician's office. Physicians anesthetize the skin beforehand. After a week or so, the incision should heal. The rods will not burst or migrate under the skin. If a woman wants to stop using implants, they can be removed at any time. Removal lasts 20-30 minutes. Changes in the menstrual cycle (e.g., irregular and unpredictable bleeding or no bleeding at all) are the most frequent side effects. These effects tend to lessen with time and are not harmful. Some women experience nausea, headache, nervousness, dizziness, and weight gain. Implants are very effective at preventing pregnancy and very convenient. Incorrect use or forgetfulness are not problems for women using implants. As soon as the physician removes the implants, fertility resumes. Contraceptive implants do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV/AIDS, so women should use condoms to provide this protection. To determine whether contraceptive implants are an option, women should first discuss it with their health care provider.