The pros and cons of norplant as a birth control measure

Sure, you’ve heard of the loop, depo-provera and other forms of contraception, but you might not be aware of how they really work and the pros and cons of each method. In this serialised article, we look at each of the family planning methods available to women in depth.


Norplant is a birth control method in which six match-sized capsules are surgically implanted underneath the skin of the underside of the upper arm. In some cases, one or two soft rods are implanted in the woman’s upper arm that release a steady flow of progestin over a period of three to five years. This thickens the cervical mucus and inhibits ovulation.

Norplant does not protect against STDs. To protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases, use a male condom each time you and your partner have sex.

How Do I Get Norplant?

The procedure takes about 15 minutes. First, your doctor will use a shot to numb the underside of the upper arm. A metal device is then used to make a small incision just under the skin. The capsules are inserted in a fan shape. The incision is then covered with gauze and a bandage. Stitches are not required.

How Soon Does Norplant Work?

Protection begins 24 hours after Norplant has been inserted if done during the first 7 days of the menstrual cycle.

How Effective Is Norplant?

Norplant is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Can Anyone Use Norplant?

No. Norplant is not recommended for everyone. You should not use Norplant if you have:

Unexplained vaginal bleeding, liver disease, breast cancer, blood clots in the legs, lungs or eyes.

What Are the Side Effects of Norplant?

Irregular menstrual periods or no periods at all, headaches, nervousness, depression, dizziness, acne, changes in appetite, weight gain, excessive growth of facial and body hair.

Can Norplant Be Removed Early?

Yes. Norplant can be removed any time after it has been inserted. Fertility is restored within 5-14 days after Norplant is removed.

Advantages of Using Norplant:

  • You don’t have to remember to take it every day or use it each time you have sex.
  • It provides long-term protection.
  • It doesn’t interfere with sexual activity.
  • It’s over 99% effective.

Disadvantages of Using Norplant:

  • It is expensive to have inserted.
  • It can cause harmful side effects.
  • It does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Menstrual periods are irregular.
  • Removal may be difficult.—

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