Leslie Carol Botha: Had an email from my long-time colleague and fellow menstrual health advocate, Renate Klein from Australia the other night asking me if I heard any news about girls committing suicide while on Implanon. [Sorry Merck & Co. if this is giving Implanon and you company a bad rap - but I have been repeatedly giving you a bad rap for pushing the Gardasil HPV vaccine on unsuspecting girls for years - so get over it. Oh, and one more think I thing pushing this implant on innocent girls who are too young to advocate condom use for themselves to prevent STD's and then stand on the the other side of the fence and push an STD vaccine is unethical and immoral.]
I digress… back to my story. I did some quick research knowing how many women are currently struggling with other forms of synthetic birth control including Depo, birth control pills, IUD’s and the patch. Found a web site with hundreds of comments from girls and their mothers with complaints about Implanon. And one mother even said ‘one of these days a girl is going to commit suicide on this device.’
That is more blood on your hands Merck.
Renate pointed me to this article that she wrote and published in 2008. The link to the comments of girls having problems with Implanon are below.
Implanon – just slip it in?
by RENATE KLEIN
WEDNESDAY, 21 MAY 2008
Over the past weeks Implanon, the three-year contraceptive implant, has been in the media spotlight. It was reported that 12-year old Aboriginal girls were “temporarily sterilised” with Implanon in a number of Queensland and Northern Territory remote communities (see, for instance, Tim Dick in The Sydney Morning Herald, April 16, 2008).
This issue raises serious questions about health professionals aiding and abetting sex under the legal age of 16. It also reminds us that the law is often not enforced and males who have sex with underage girls get away without prosecution. However, other than reporting that some of these young girls were found with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Implanon itself was not queried for its medical problems.
As Implanon is gaining widespread currency as the new “cool” contraceptive for young women everywhere in Australia, it warrants a closer look at what it is and what it does.
Implanon is a second generation progesterone-like contraceptive implant. Its ingredient Etonogestrel is very similar to the Depot progesterone in Depo Provera and Levonorgestrel in the discredited Norplant (which caused blindness in women and was taken off the US market in 2002 but is now making its comeback as Norplant-II in Europe).
Implanon consists of a 40mm single polymer rod that is injected under the skin in a girl’s/woman’s upper arm where it can be felt. It can migrate and may be hard to find if she wants to have the rod removed before its three-year effectiveness has run out. Health providers need to be instructed in both implantation and removal.
Implanon was approved in Australia in 2001 and has since become one of the most favoured contraceptive options by reproductive choice groups. In 45 years on: What now in Contraceptives?, a widely-distributed free booklet available in GP surgeries published in 2007 by the National Council of Women in Australia, Implanon is listed as the number one non-daily method.
Its advantages are described as:
- convenience – not having to remember to take anything;
- long duration of use;
- reliability; and
- fertility returns quickly upon removal of implant.
All points that may especially appeal to young girls and women who have grown up with the “one stop-quick-fix-no-bother” approach to life.
Indeed, featured in the booklet as “Being a busy girl …”, is Biana Dye, presenter of Nova radio, a station for the young. She is excited about Implanon: “What a cool concept not having to worry about contraception for three years.”
The only disadvantage the booklet includes is that the “menstrual cycle is altered and some women have irregular periods.”
Throughout the booklet, Implanon is then repeatedly mentioned as the latest exciting contraceptive choice. Unfortunately, underplaying risk and adverse effects does no service to girls and women. In June 2003, the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) mentioned in theirAdverse Drug Reactions Bulletin that they had received 130 adverse reaction reports, 37 of which related to prolonged bleeding between two and 26 weeks. (33 of the 37 women had their implant removed.) Other well known adverse effects, listed by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration who only approved Implanon in July 2006) include “increased or decreased bleeding frequency including amenorrhea (no periods), headaches, acne and emotional lability [mood swings].”
The problems don’t stop there. As with the three-month injection Depo Provera (also still widely administered to girls and women of all ethnicities) there is the serious problem of potential bone mineral density (BMD) loss. Because Implanon has only been on the market since 1998 (in Europe), it will be years before Implanon users will know whether the oestrogen decreasing mechanism of this synthetic progestin will significantly reduce BMD.
Read the 392 comments about Implanon, anxiety and depression.
Can the contraceptive implant implanon cause anxiety and depression?