Life after Nexplanon

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

I suppose this is one of those topics you just sort of have to dive straight into, but before I do I just want to clarify that this is a personal story based totally on my own experience, don't take my words as gospel, every woman is different and every person reacts differently to different chemicals in their body. What hasn't worked for me, may work perfectly for you, and that's great!

Here goes nothing...

I first had the contraceptive implant inserted when I was sixteen years old, at this point it was the Implanon brand and in hindsight, especially as a now twenty-two-year-old with younger step-sisters, I can appreciate how young that is to make a critical decision about your body, more so in my case where it was a decision based on not very much information or research.

The reason I was put on contraception at such a young age is a long-winded tale involving painful periods and awkward bleeding, I was given my first prescription for the pill at thirteen along with a handful of other tablets all promising to magically cure my uncomfortable experience each month.

After a few futile months of attempting to remember to take my pills at the same time each day, I gave up entirely and let mother nature curse me with whatever she wished. It was only when I was sixteen that I overheard someone in my school talking about this amazing rod the size of a bobby pin that gets painlessly inserted into your left arm and allows you to live life without the constant dread of  a period hanging over your little head, so with that I made myself an appointment with the local family planning clinic.

It was the first appointment I had attended without my Mum, it was the first decision about my body I had ever made as an 'adult' in the eyes of the health care system. I was asked questions that made me squirm, whether I was sexually active, if there was any chance I could be pregnant, I remember shyly indicating the answers with a slight movement of my head and cowering into the chair wondering if I had made a mistake.

There was no time to debate, within minutes I was numb and the Implanon had been inserted. My arm was wrapped in bandages and bruised like a bitch but other than that, I pretty much forgot it was there and carried on with life as normal.

See, this is the thing. My life wasn't normal.

In fact, for the past five or so years, I have battled a crippling depression. I don't mean 'I'm having a bad day' sort of depression, I'm talking about heart-wrenching, gut-churning emotional rollercoasters of soaring highs, dramatic lows and bouts of anxiety that have often left me too terrified to get out of bed, let alone leave the house.

With these symptoms, I've had diagnosis after diagnosis, from ADHD to manic depression, with all sorts of pills thrown down my throat promising to fix me.

During this time, I popped back to the family planning clinic to have my implant taken out and a fresh one put in, telling myself under illusion that it was 'one less thing to worry about'

I don't want to go too deeply into this side of things, but the past two years have been the most intense of my life in regards to my mental health. I've dealt with the whole situation as privately as a person can, with such an incredible facade that there are literally only a couple of close friends and family members aware of the true extent of what I have been living with. I suppose in a way this means I haven't allowed myself to discover if anyone else has been feeling the same way as I have or had anyone to prompt me into recognising that my dramatic change of personality had coincided with the insertion of my implant, worsening after the insertion of my second implant 'Nexplanon'

It was around six months ago that out of chance I stumbled across this blog post. 

I absorbed the information apprehensively, I didn't want to be self-diagnosing or convincing myself of an issue that wasn't really there, so instead I looked further into the subject finding articles such as this one which states 'women with a history of depressed mood should be carefully observed and consideration should be given to removing Nexplanon in patients who become significantly depressed' and also 'aside from depression, Nexplanon can also cause emotional liability which is characterised by mood swings such as involuntary or uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughter'. Considering the severity of my mood swings and the fact I suffered from minor depression prior to the first insertion, I soon felt alarmed that these side effects hadn't been brought to my attention sooner, and came to the conclusion I needed to at least experiment with having my implant removed to see if it could have something to do with my whole world turning to shit.

So, six months after my dramatic final diagnosis of bipolar and being prescribed mood stabilisers, I booked myself back into the family planning clinic for implant removal.

So, here is the main point of this blog post...It's been nearly three months since I had the damn thing removed and I honestly feel the best I ever have. I'm not naive enough to believe that I'll never suffer mental health issues again, or that I miraculously cured of all that was wrong, but I can certainly tell you that the intensity of everything has just totally disappeared - I've even managed to lower the dose of my stabilisers from four a day to just one before bed.

Before I had the implant removed, and also before my diagnosis, every few weeks I was experiencing high, euphoric moods that caused me to live so dangerously on the edge I would often go awol and have police-escorted search parties looking for me in the early hours of the morning, followed by being in the pits of depression to the point where I would need to be be monitored 24/7 so not to do myself any damage.

Since having my implant removed three months ago, I have been on an incredible level somewhere in-between those drastic highs and horrendous lows, I think it's what people call 'normal'. I honestly have never felt this content and it's wonderful to enjoy feeling happy without worrying that it's going to transform into insane hyperactivity, a spontaneous spending spree and a night on the town that turns into two days of being missing and near enough finding my face on milk bottles.

It's a very bittersweet story.

I won't deny that it's the most incredible thing to be feeling so stable and to hear people talk about my mood and attitude in a positive light, rather than treading on eggshells and second-guessing when I'm going to have my next episode. However, it's also filling me with a great sadness that I have wasted almost six years of my life in this deep, dark misery, without ever putting two and two together and realising that my emotional turmoil could have been as a result of the hormones pumping around my body from the rod inserted into my arm. It seems so obvious now, and I could kick myself.

So, here's the thing...

I really don't want people to think the aim of this blog post is to scare the living shit out of girls debating contraception, as I already disclosed, every woman is different and will react differently to the hormones produced by Nexplanon.

However, I can't stress enough how important it is to research your decision first, to read up online, to ask other girls, to gather as much information as you possibly can and to be aware of your body and your emotions after insertion. If even one person had informed me of the emotional, and physical, risks that can come hand in hand with this sort of contraception, I perhaps would have been a little less hasty to have it done, and I certainly wouldn't have continued with it once I began to experience the first signs of depression and anxiety.

I suppose the moral is that you only get one body and one mind, so look after it.

I really hope this story is of interest to people. Obviously, I'm not a health professional so there is only so far I can go with support, but if you can relate to this post and have a question or even fancy having a chat, please don't be afraid to send me a message or leave a comment.

Elly xo


  1. Really great post, so informative and I'm sure it'll help a lot of girls out there! I've never had the implant, for that reason - however I was originally on Rigivedon combined pill. Unknown to me,that was making my depression so much worse and it took me demanding that the doctor changes the pill - before anything was done! I'm now on a progesterone only one, and although I still suffer with my MH - I think it's definitely improved. I wish doctors would spend more time finding the correct contraceptive for you, before prescribing it!! Those kind of appointments are horrendous though arent they!

    Jade x

    1. Thank you so much. I was a bit nervous about publishing this, not really used to writing such personal posts, but I thought it was a topic that definitely needs discussing more, and more openly! You're right, it's all good and well handing a girl a leaflet with different types of contraception, but every person is different and each medical history should be taken into account. I'm still shocked that I wasn't informed of how the implant can make depression worse when I had medical records at the time showing they were investigating if I had clinical depression. Even if this helps just one girl to ask more questions then that would be amazing. I think I'm just going to let my body rest for a bit, I've heard good things about the coil but the idea of it freaks me out haha!

      Thanks for your comment my love xo

  2. I'm happy that having the implant taken out has helped you! As much as it's great not having to worry about stuff your mental health is so much more important!

    Tarnya xxx

  3. I have a similar story... I went into panic attacks so bad I couldn't even walk INTO my own house. Anxiety and panic attacks became so prevalent in my life... and to top it all off it sent me into simple partial seizures which was diagnosed as PTSD. Two full years of seizures... ER visits, doctors appointments, therapists, medications, having to fight to keep my job... and suddenly I find posts online about women with similar issues. I got it removed about a month ago and BOOM no more panic attacks, very little anxiety, and not a single seizure. Now its dealing with Nausea and hormonal imbalances every day but now there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm sure it works wonders for some women... but you're right in the fact that women need to know what's possible with the contraceptives they use. Thank you for posting this article.


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