Norplant is a long-term method of birth control consisting of six thin, flexible plastic tubes the size of matchsticks. These flexible tubes allow the release of the synthetic hormone progestin, which acts to prevent pregnancy. The tubes are inserted into the upper arm after the area is numbed with a local anesthetic. A small incision is made, and the six Norplant capsules are inserted. This procedure takes about ten minutes. Norplant must be inserted within the first seven days of the beginning of a normal menstrual cycle. Protection against pregnancy begins within 24 hours. Norplant protects against pregnancy for five years; however, it does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Norplant must be removed after five years of use. It can also be removed at any point before five years.Effectiveness
Norplant is an extremely effective contraceptive: it is 99.9 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Of every 10,000 women who use Norplant for five years, fewer than five will become pregnant.Advantages
Norplant is a long-term birth-control method that does not require any action on a daily basis or prior to intercourse. Also, it can decrease menstrual cramps and pain, as well as reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancies. Norplant does not contain estrogen, so women who cannot use certain birth-control pills may still be able to use Norplant. Norplant can be removed at any time.Drawbacks
Norplant does not protect again HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Also, inserting and removing Norplant requires a minor surgical procedure, making the initial cost of Norplant higher than other contraceptives. In rare instances, implants have been difficult to remove. Side effects can include skin irritation at the insertion site, irregular menstrual cycles, spotting, weight gain, breast tenderness, mood changes, or changes in your sex drive.Availability
Visit your health-care provider or a family-planning clinic.Cost
Without public or private insurance coverage, Norplant can cost between $500 and $750 for the medical exam, a pregnancy test, the implant, and the insertion. This amounts to $100 to $150 per year over a five-year period. Clinicians will charge an additional fee to remove Norplant -- from $100 to $200. Some insurance plans will pay for Norplant. Medicaid covers the cost of the drug for all eligible women living in any of the 50 states.Information Resources
Related Fact Sheet
From the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.