Among the many birth control methods available today all across U.S., one method is steadily gaining popularity — birth control implants. Norplant is a form of birth control that was developed by the Population Council in Finland in 1983. Their manufacturer, Leiras Oy Pharmaceuticals, made an implant that consists of a set of six small silicone capsules. Each capsule contains 36 milligrams of levonorgestrel, which is a progestin used in many birth control pills. This is implanted sub-dermally in the upper arm and can be effective for up to five years. The original 6-capsule Norplant was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1990 and was made available in the market in 1991. The second-generation product aptly named Norplant 2 is similar to the original formula but only consists two small silicone rods each containing 75 milligrams of levonorgestrel, instead of six capsules. The production of Norplant 2 began in January 2007.

Norplant is normally implanted under the skin in the upper arm of a woman by creating a small incision and inserting the capsules in a fan like manner. Insertion of this birth control implant usually takes at least 15 minutes, and these capsules can sometimes be seen under the skin, although they usually look like small veins. Also felt under the skin, this contraceptive works within 24 hours and lasts for five years.

This birth control implant works by preventing the ovulation process, meaning that no eggs are released for fertilization. It helps thicken the mucus of the cervix, which then prevents the sperm from entering. It also helps in thinning the lining of the uterus, which makes implantation of eggs less likely. Since Norplant has the potential to prevent pregnancy after fertilization occurs, some consider it to be abortive in nature. The reason behind the cause of these effects is by the use of hormones. A small amount of progestin is released through the capsules continuously, more during the first year and a half, but then at a level similar to most contraceptive pills afterward. According to studies, Norplant has been shown to be 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, and is one of the most reliable forms of birth control. It is essential for women to know that this kind of birth control implant does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

However, Norplant should not be used by women with liver disease, breast cancer, and blood clots. Women who think or believe that they are pregnant, or those with vaginal bleeding, should first consult with their physician before using the product. Since Norplant does not contain estrogen like other birth control pills, older women, women who smoke, and women with high blood pressure are not restricted from using this method.

If one wishes to remove this birth control implant, it can be removed at any time by creating a second incision and withdrawing the capsules. Norplant is normally removed after five years, and a new set is reinserted if preferred, or if pregnancy is desired. This can also be removed if a different birth control is needed or preferred, or if certain complications arise. Always remember to consult with the physician for further information regarding this birth control implant.

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