Nexplanon: Review, Removal, Restart
* Disclaimer: the following experiences have been assessed by doctors however this does not mean that it is medically factual for diagnosing yourself; the information included here is to help you identify if you need to change your birth control. *
The post that preludes this one can be found here: https://www.mtndweller.com/writing/nexplanon
It was the first week of October, marking five months since the day that the Nexplanon Birth Control Arm Implant was put into my left arm, and I suddenly found myself riddled with pain on my right side. Shit, I thought to myself, another kidney stone. I had a right flank pain that was exactly like the one I had when I had my first throw of kidney stones at age twenty. I made an appointment at the Big Sky Hospital and ended up calling out of work twice because of the pain, lack of appetite, and lethargy. Bed ridden, great.
In the same week, I am admitted for my appointment and seen by a doctor who proceeded to take about ten minutes to actually see me - he diagnosed me with a pulled back muscle after he watched me stretch three different ways and disregarded all of the information about my female family history, the fact that I had kidney stones prior, and that I had an arm implant. Malpractice at it’s finest, Dr. Phil Hess. I tried to argue with him, saying that this was no pulled back muscle and that something was wrong. Ignored and dismissed, he says, “if the pain lasts more than three days, call back and we will get you set up for a physical therapy appointment” - fucking idiot. I left with a shot in my ass and what turned out to be zero pain relief from it. I decided that I wouldn’t go back to Big Sky Medical, even if it was an emergency, and therefore was going to wait it out until we moved to Salt Lake City. Right choice.
Two days before moving, the pain began to subside and I was able to participate in a successful move with my partner. I was able to even forget about the pain and experienced an otherwise great rest of the month. And then November happened.
We were down south, in the desert of Utah, over one hour away from any kind of emergency help or hospitals. It didn’t cross either of our minds that we would maybe need to stick closer to the safety net. I hadn’t eaten that much that day, not untypical for me when down in the desert, however when nightfall began to roll around, I began to decline, fast. It started with not having much interest in dinner or my beloved alcohol or pot; I resided to the tent early, just after a late fall sunset, and within hours I began moaning of my discomforts. Nausea, unease, sweating, chills. I was in and out of sleep. I was able to doze off for a few hours until around 9:30 pm when I woke with such a cramping pain in my right side that it sent me straight out of the tent, feeling like I need to vomit or shit - to which I violently shat my insides out promptly. That led to my uncontrollable sobbing and hysteria; the pain was getting worse and I was beginning to flat out panic. My partner literally shoved our entire campsite into the car so quickly that we were on the dirt road out, headed back to Green River, in less than fifteen minutes.
As we drove from dirt to road, from road to highway, I began to take ease. I did not have health insurance and was therefore extremely reluctant to enter the Green River ER. I looked at my partner and said, “look, there is an ER in an hour on our way back home to Salt Lake and then there are plenty to choose from once we get back into The Valley. Let’s just drive home and if we need to, we will stop.” How fucking lucky am I have someone who drives four hours back home in the middle of the night?! I slept pretty much the entire way, too nauseous to keep my eyes on the road and too in between sweating and the chills to feel good enough to stay awake.
Arriving back in Salt Lake, I became bedridden for the next four days. I was unable to eat or even walk the dog - my loss of appetite made it almost impossible to feel good and even when I knew that all I needed to do was eat, to put something into my body to keep it going, I couldn’t. Liquid drinks became my saving grace until I was eventually able to stomach yoghurts and ciders. The pain in my right side was excruciating - hot water bottles, ice packs, nothing was helping. I also couldn’t take any medicine because my stomach was way too empty to do so. Just as it came, it all disappeared and I was back to feeling better after the four longest days.
It was time to make another appointment. The conclusion from my first visit: they found active fibers on my right ovary, but due it only being an ultrasound, they were unable to see what exactly was going on. I was referred to an OBGYN specialist for further assessment. My second visit: my doctor, while performing a physical exam, witnessed me practically fly off the table when he triggered my right ovary. It was like he had used a knife on me all of the sudden and the pain was strikingly worse than it had ever been. He decided that it was time for a CT scan…and to remove my Nexplanon Implant. Prior to the implant, I had been on a low dose of birth control pills that honestly didn’t have any noticeable side effects - I just wanted to try something new because after eight years of trying to remember pills, I was getting pretty terrible at it.
With December rolling around quick, I was growing more and more reluctant about the timing of the removal and CT scan, terrified to endure another week of what was due to come. Due to some other complications, my removal date was pushed back to January and on January 2, just days away from my nine month mark of having the implant, I had my Nexplanon Implant removed. I also began spotting two days prior which began to set even more red flags off for me - see, I had not bled once since having the implant placed in my arm in May 2018.
It was an even easier process than it being put in and I was immediately put back on The Pill. While the bleeding hasn’t stopped (which has honestly been a hard adjustment for me, I fucking LOATHE my period), I have otherwise felt like the removal was a crucial and worthwhile step to take. Some bodies do really, really well with just progesterone, and then there are bodies like mine, the ones who need just a little bit of some hormones. Of course, naturally, I am not going to recommend to this to anyone but I feel deeply that it is important to share these stories because my doctors, the ones who provided me with this new option, they never once thoroughly discussed the “cons” of this method of birth control - it was always about the “success” stories. After going public with the removal of the implant, so many other women reached out to me about their similar horror stories with Nexplanon. I couldn’t believe how naive I had been about the very thing existing in my body - their stories were either almost exactly like mine, or they were situations of non-stop bleeding, extreme mood swings that began to ruin their relationships, and even worse things beyond. All had had theirs removed in under a year’s mark and all were very thankful to have switched methods.
I am now two weeks out from when I had the implant removed and I have never been happier. My moods seem to be mellowing out, my body is still adjusting to it’s new set of doses and therefore my acne is trying to figure out what is up too. I’ve been “spotting”/lightly bleeding for the entire two weeks, with maybe one or two days of nothing. It feels a lot like my body just getting rid of the garbage that had built up while on the implant. The bruising on my arm JUST faded as of a day ago, lasted much longer than I anticipated it to. In closing, I wanted to include that while periods are gross and annoying, we do have modern choices, like the Diva Cup (which I highly recommend, I got a knock off brand off of amazon and I love it) and while it may be messy putting it in and taking it out, you get some of your peace of mind back knowing that there aren’t any harmful chemicals soaking in your vagina (do some research on tampons….you’ll buy a diva cup too).
Hopefully this may help some women who are sitting on the fence about the Nexplanon Arm Implant! YAY being a woman!!