How easy is it to remove Norplant?

I'm a 37 year old woman in good health. I had the Norplant Implants put in after my third child was born. I have had them for 5 1/2 years. This has been a good form of birth control for us. The main side effect has been unpredicatble periods. I have an appointment to have my implants removed. I should have done this 6 months ago but have been too nervous. My GP said having them removed is no big deal. I feel this should be no big deal but I am scared!! Is this a big deal? Is this quick and easy? Should I ask for something to calm me down? How long does the procedure take? The implants look so easy to remove; they are just under the skin and I can see them and feel them.

Although removal is simple you are better off having someone with surgical experience (like yourOB/GYN) do this. S/he will first numb the area with a local anesthetic, which is really the most painful part, and is no worse than any other shot to the arm. It does take about 45 minutes to an hour, assuming all of the implants went in smoothly when originally inserted. It takes this long because it can be difficult to grasp the rod without tearing it. The doctor will make a single incision at the base of the array of rods (where they begin to fan out). Each rod, after five years, has become encased in its own pocket of scar tissue and so another slit is made in the base of each pocket and the rod is usually pulled out quite easily. When the doctor pulls out the implants you will probably feel some tugging and pressure, no more. If the implants have been lodged in the deeper tissue, it may just take a bit longer. At the end of the procedure the incision is closed with a suture or two, which will have to be taken out in 7-10 days. The whole thing is really more boring than it is painful. You will probably be lying there bored, staring at the ceiling with your arm outstretched. When you feel your arm afterwards, it may feel like the rods are still in there because of the scar tissue pockets, but they are in fact gone.

It is not a big deal if a woman hasn't had her Norplant implants removed directly after they have become inactive. Once the synthetic hormones in the Norplant have run out, it stops working as birth control and will not cause any particular reactions in the body. Before having the implants removed though a woman should think about if she wants a second set. A new set will be inserted through the same opening as the one the old set was pulled out of and so it saves a woman trouble, cost, and discomfort to have the second set placed while the incision is still open. The second set will be placed in a fan pattern that mirrors the first set (in the opposite direction).

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