Nexplanon Side Effects: Weight Gain, Menstrual Bleeding, & Depression

Here’s something more to feed the fire.

Nexplanon, the contraceptive implants in the thick of the controversy over their use in the United Kingdom in under-16 schoolgirls has many side effects, many of them serious.

Common adverse reactions of using Nexplanon, technically known as non-radiopaque etonogestrel implant, reported in clinical studies sponsored by the drug’s manufacturer, Organon, include the following:

  • Pain— headache (1 in 4 of women who had the implant reported this), breast pain (1 in 8 women), abdominal pain (1 in 10), dysmenorrheal (1 in 14), back pain (1 in 16) and pain in the insertion site (1 in 20), Influenza-like symptoms (1 in 14) and unspecified pain (1 in 20)
  • Infection—vaginitis (1 in 6), leucorrhea or white vaginal discharge (1 in 10) and pharyngitis (1 in 10)
  • Emotional or mental problems like emotional lability (1 in 16), nervousness (1 in 20), depression (1 in 20) and hypersensitivity (1 in 20)
  • Undesirable outcomes like weight gain (1 in 6) and acne (1 in 6), dizziness (1 in 14) and nausea (1 in 16)

Clinical trials involved 942 women and were done to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the implant.

Changes in menstrual bleeding patterns
Having Nexplanon implanted can cause changes in bleeding patterns, ranging from amenorrhea or total disappearance of the menstrual cycle (1 in 5 women) to frequent or prolonged bleeding (1 in 5 women).

In clinical studies, at least ten percent of women who had Nexplanon implanted chose to have it removed specifically because they found it unbearable to be bleeding for more than half a month—clinical study results note an average bleeding of 17.7 days of bleeding or spotting every 90 days.

Insertion risks
Nexplanon implant is inserted subdermally in the upper arm and failure to insert the implant properly can pose many risks. If implanted too shallowly, it will not work as a contraceptive. This may go unnoticed and lead to an intended pregnancy.

What’s worse is that a pregnancy that occurs in a woman using Nexplanon is more likely to be ectopic than a pregnancy occurring in a woman using no contraception.

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