Leslie Carol Botha: Norplant was taken off the US market years ago because of this issue….as well as the difficulty of inserting and removing the rods. Implanon and Nexplanon is now used in this country – 2 synthetic hormone rods. But can they still disappear? Well what do you think? The sad thing is that these implants are placed in adolescent and teen girls wreaking all sorts of havoc on their mental/emotional and physical health.
Norplant was approved by the FDA in 1991. In 2000, the manufacturer, Wyeth, warned health-care officials of possible defective lots. In 2002, Wyeth voluntarily recalled the product permanently. It claimed this was due to limitations of component supplies, but there also had been complaints of side effects.
Contraception is no stroll in the park and men should share the stress
The news that contraceptive implants can vanish inside women’s bodies shows why we should rethink birth control options
If only condoms weren’t such a bore. Whether you want childless sex with a partner, or free-for-all romps in rooms covered in bin liners and baby oil, sexual liberation comes at a price. The most recent scandal focused on the contraceptive implant Implanon, which, it was exposed this week, can sometimes just disappear. Inside women’s bodies. Never to be found again.
This is no small matter. Older women were originally prescribed the implant because, post-removal, fertility returns more quickly than with the contraceptive pill. Now those whose implants have gone walkabout could now have lost their chance ever to have children. Implanon is undetectable by x-ray; by the time the implant’s hormones run out (they last for three years) these women may no longer be fertile.
But it is no picnic to have a contraceptive implant lost somewhere in the body at any age. Though the NHS has now upgraded to an x-rayable version of the implant, this provides no assurance that it won’t still travel, requiring surgery for removal. The contraceptive implant is powerful stuff. In the clinical trials, almost 20% of women experienced prolonged bleeding. More than 10% experienced headaches, vaginitis, weight increase, acne, breast pain or abdominal pain.
Where the global market in contraception is concerned, cost-effectiveness comes first, women’s health second. NHS guidelines repeatedly note cost effectiveness as a reason for recommending hormonal implants, injections, and intrauterine systems to women. Meanwhile, the contraceptive pill comes with a whole host of similar assorted miseries. Though for many women these can be liberating choices that unshackle pleasurable sex from reproduction, for others, dramatic side-effects make life a trial.
Trial is the operative term here. Women have many “choices”, each as woeful as the last. Implants get lost, barriers might break, or give you cystitis; injections make you fat. Faced with this, women are playing hormone roulette, holding out for the one perfect method that often doesn’t exist. At the same time, nobody is asking what it means for up to 44% of British fertile women to be constantly on a cocktail of synthetic hormones.
As arguments about capitalist markets in women’s bodies go, this is clear cut. The development of male contraceptives has been lagging for years, hobbled by the profit-driven politics of the global pharmaceutical industry. An apparently 100% effective, side-effect free, non-hormonal male contraceptive named RISUG is currently stalled in advanced clinical trials in India. Developed by independent scientists at low cost, international interest in it is tellingly scarce. While stops and starts in developing RISUG might also represent a worthwhile care over its safety, no such qualms are extended to contraceptives for women.