Report Studies the Effect of Birth Control Implant Migration on Women

Posted on September 7, 2012

There are numerous birth control options out there, but recently, one particular form of contraception has had its safety called into question.  A new article in the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail discusses how many women who have been implanted with an under-the-skin birth control device known as Implanon are concerned about infertility should the device migrate to other parts of the body, as is possible.

First, a brief explanation is in order.  The types of devices that have prompted the report work by way of distributing hormones on a regular basis.  As opposed to something like a pill that has to be taken every day in order to be effective, these types of devices can be implanted and then forgotten about until it comes time to remove the contraceptive.

So far, there has not been extensive research on how often these devices can become lost in a person’s body, although most doctors agree that the issue is rare.  One of the most typical situations is a device implanted in the tissue of a woman’s forearm migrating deeper into that tissue.  The deeper embedding of the birth control would require a slightly more complex removal procedure, according to a doctor a Boston IVF.  He says, however, that this type of procedure would be the worst-case scenario for patients.

Others aren’t so quick to dismiss the danger.  One Boston resident who had a negative experience with an intrauterine device said she would never again consider using that method of birth control.  She went in for what she figured would be a routine procedure to get the device removed, but the doctor was unable to find it right away and eventually had to turn to an ultrasound to confirm its location.  The removal string couldn’t be found, and thus the patient had to submit to surgery to get the item removed.

A doctor from Northwestern Memorial Hospital says that the possibility that an intrauterine device would migrate is exceedingly uncommon, but that in such instances, it won’t just pop up anywhere.  The rarest cases involve the device perforating the uterus and making its way to the abdominal cavity.

The maker of the Implanon device, Merck, referred to literature on the device when asked about the migration.  This patient handout discusses how removal of the device can be more challenging because there’s a chance the device won’t be where it was implanted.

If the device can’t be found, two options exist for those women who want to have kids:  locating and removing the implant through a medical procedure, or waiting until the hormones run out.  This latter option, however, could take years.

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