This week the FDA has approved Implanon, a contraceptive device that slides under the skin, and lasts up to three years. It fills a gap left by Norplant, whose bulky implant went off the market in 2000:
Implanon releases a low, steady dose of progestin to prevent pregnancy. Its use can cause irregular bleeding and spotting. For some women, it can eliminate monthly periods altogether.
The rod is inserted by a doctor under the skin of the upper arm in a quick surgical procedure that requires only a local anesthetic. It must be removed after three years, although it can be taken out at any time before then, said the company, a unit of Netherlands-based Akzo Nobel NV.
Progestin is a synthetic hormone similar to the progesterone made in the ovaries. The hormone typically acts on the body by thickening the mucus in a women’s cervix, preventing the union of sperm and egg. It also can prevent ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovaries.
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