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Nexplanon (newer version of Implanon) is a subcutaneous contraceptive, about the size of a matchstick, which is implanted in a woman’s upper arm. It works by slowly releasing hormones that reduce the risk of pregnancy. Unfortunately, Nexplanon has been associated with a 40% increased risk of blood clots. Women who develop Nexplanon blood clots may suffer severe, life-threatening venous injuries, organ damage, pulmonary embolism, heart attack, stroke, disability, or death.

Overview

Nexplanon is a contraceptive implant. The device is roughly the size of a matchstick, and it contains 68-mg of etonogestrel, a synthetic type of progestin, which is a female reproductive hormone. Nexplanon is very effective at preventing pregnancy, and it does so in several ways. Nexplanon increases the amount of cervical mucous, which makes it difficult for a sperm to enter the uterus. It also inhibits ovulation, which reduces the chance that a sperm that makes it into the uterus will fertilize an egg.

Is Nexplanon different from Implanon?

Yes. Nexplanon is a newer version of Implanon. Both medications contain the same amount of hormones (68-mg of etonogestrel). They also have the same side effects, risks, health benefits, and duration of effectiveness. One major difference is that Nexplanon contains barium-sulfate, which is non-toxic to the human body because it cannot be absorbed. This is a useful upgrade, because a healthcare professional can use an X-ray or CT scan to locate the Nexplanon device after it is implanted. Another upgrade is the Nexplanon insertion applicator is more user-friendly, which reduces the risk of implantation errors.

Nexplanon Blood Clots

Nexplanon blood clots are some of the most serious side effects of Nexplanon. They often form deep inside veins located in the legs, thigh, or pelvis, in a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Women who suffer from DVT may have severe venous damage. If parts of the blood clot break off, they can also get trapped in the lungs and cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Nexplanon blood clots that form in arteries can cause a heart attack, stroke, severe disability, or death.

Studies of Nexplanon Health Risks

A Danish study was published in the British Medical Journal in November of 2011, which associated Nexplanon and Implanon with a 40% increased risk of blood clots compared to women who did not use hormonal birth control. The researchers also found that many other non-oral hormonal contraceptives were associated with a significantly increased risk of blood clots. Vaginal ring devices were associated with a 6.5-fold increased risk of blood clots. Skin patch contraceptives were associated with a 7.9-fold increased risk of blood clots.

The researchers based their conclusions on a massive study of data gathered on Danish women who were between the ages of 15-49, from 2001 through 2010. The women involved in the study had no history of cancer, blood clots, and were not pregnant.

Only IUDs (uterine implants) were not associated with an increased risk of blood clots.

Nexplanon Side Effects

The most severe side effect of Nexplanon is a blood clot, which can cause death. All Nexplanon users are at risk of this side effect. Other risk factors that increase the chances of a blood clot include smoking, being over 35 years old, and having a history of venous disorders.

Nexplanon side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Blood clots
  • Changes in menstrual bleeding; irregular, unpredictable bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal infections
  • Acne
  • Breast tenderness or pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Moodiness, depression
  • Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC)