Safety and Benefits of Contraceptives Implants: A Systematic Review

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Jun 8;14(6):548. doi: 10.3390/ph14060548.


Progestin-only contraceptive implants provide long-acting, highly effective reversible contraception. We searched the medical publications in PubMed, CENTRAL, and EMBASE for relevant articles on hormonal implants published in English between 1990 and 2021. Levonorgestrel (LNG) 6-capsule subdermal implants represented the first effective system approved for reversible contraception. The etonogestrel (ENG) single rod dispositive has been widely employed in clinical practice, since it is a highly effective and safe contraceptive method. Abnormal menstrual bleeding is a common ENG side effect, representing the main reason for its premature discontinuation. Emerging evidence demonstrated that it is possible to extend the use of the ENG implant beyond the three-year period for which it is approved. The ENG implant could be an effective and discrete alternative to the IUD in young girls, such as post-partum/post-abortion. Implants should be inserted by trained skilled clinicians who previously provide adequate counselling about their contraceptive effect, benefits, and any possible adverse events. More studies are needed to validate the extended use of the ENG implant for up to 5 years.

Keywords: LARC; contraception; etonogestrel; implanon; levonorgestrel; nexplanon; subdermal implant.

Publication types

  • Review