Nexplanon vs Depo-Provera – Comparison of Side Effects & Benefits

Nexplanon vs Depo-Provera – detailed comparison:


It is a state-of-the-art method of birth control that uses an arm (right under the skin) implant to deliver a progestin hormone called etonogestrel. The implant is a flexible plastic rod about 4 cm long and 2mm in diameter.

The implant contains a small amount of barium sulfate so that the device can be seen by X-ray.

Etonogestrel is slowly released over at least three years, initially at 60 to 70 mcg per day, decreasing to 25 to 30 mcg per day at the end of the third year. The hormone works mainly by stopping ovulation as well as changing the lining of the womb to make it less likely that an egg would attach to it.


  • it provides continuous pregnancy protection for 3 years;
  • it can be used by women who can’t use estrogen;
  • it can be removed anytime during the three year period;
  • it is a safe and highly effective birth control method;
  • it has fewer hormonal ups and downs than daily birth control methods;
  • it does not require a daily act to maintain its coverage;
  • most women cannot see the implant after insertion;
  • after removal, a woman’s ability to become pregnant returns quickly;
  • it is effective within 24 hours of implantation.

Note – this contraceptive implant does not protect against STIs (sexually transmitted infections). To protect yourself against STIs, female or male condoms need to be used.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • mood changes;
  • changes in menstrual periods;
  • back pain;
  • irregular menstrual periods;
  • changes in appetite;
  • breast tenderness or pain;
  • weakness;
  • abdominal pain;
  • headaches;
  • nausea;
  • vaginal discharge;
  • acne;
  • pain at the injection site;
  • depression;
  • dizziness;
  • vaginal infection or inflammation;
  • unexplained weight gain;
  • a sore throat;
  • fluid retention;
  • flu symptoms;
  • nervousness;
  • liver disease.

Rare side effects may include:

  • serious depression;
  • ectopic pregnancies (happens when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus);
  • liver disease;
  • blood clot formation (risk levels are the highest within the first 12 months of taking the implant).

To be sure that this implant is safe for you, it is important that your healthcare provider knows:

  • if you have any vaginal bleeding other than your normal monthly period;
  • if you have an ovarian cyst (a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary);
  • if you have a rare inherited blood disorder that affects the nervous system, called porphyria;
  • if you think you could already be pregnant;
  • if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any type of medicine;
  • if you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without or with a prescription, as well as supplements, complementary and herbal medicines;
  • if you have a type of cancer that you have been told is dependent on a sex hormone;
  • if you have had breast cancer;
  • if you have developed yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes during a pregnancy;
  • if you have developed severe itching;
  • if you have ever had an ectopic pregnancy;
  • if you have systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks various cells or organs;
  • if you have a problem with your arteries;
  • if you have high LDL and total cholesterol levels;
  • if you have any medical problems with the way your liver works.


It is a contraceptive method for women that contains a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, called depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA). It works by preventing ovulation and thinning the lining of the uterus.

Furthermore, it is used to correct menstrual disorders caused by a lack of this hormone in the body.


This contraceptive is given as an injection every three months. The usual recommended dose is 150 mg by injection in the deltoid or gluteal muscle. The initial injection should be given during the first 5 days after the onset of a normal menstrual period.

Side Effects and Precautions

There are possible side effects from this injection, including:

  • headaches;
  • irregular menstrual periods;
  • abdominal pain/discomfort;
  • a possible bone mineral loss;
  • bloating;
  • loss of menstrual periods;
  • mood changes;
  • dizziness;
  • unexplained weight gain.

To make sure that this contraceptive method is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • congestive heart failure;
  • kidney disease;
  • migraine headaches;
  • high blood pressure;
  • a personal history of diabetes;
  • hereditary angioedema (swelling caused by a build-up of fluid in deeper layers of the skin);
  • asthma;
  • a family history of breast cancer;
  • breast nodules;
  • heavy, light, or irregular menstrual periods;
  • seizures;
  • a family history of osteoporosis;
  • low bone mineral density;
  • adrenal gland disorder;
  • an eating disorder;
  • depression;
  • if you smoke tobacco or you are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke;
  • if you drink large amounts of alcoholic beverages;
  • if you have ever had a bleeding from your nipples;
  • if you have ever had an abnormal mammogram;
  • if you have ever had a breast lump.


If you are breastfeeding an infant, wait until your baby is at least 6 weeks old before using this contraceptive method.

Bottom Line – Nexplanon vs Depo-Provera

Nexplanon is a hormone-releasing birth control implant that is manufactured to be used by women in order to prevent pregnancy. Your doctor will insert the implant just under the skin of the inner side of the upper arm. You can use a single implant for up to 3 years.

Depo-Provera is a female hormone that helps to regulate ovulation and to prevent pregnancy. It works by thickening the mucus around the cervix, making it less likely for sperm to reach the egg as well as it prevents a woman’s egg from completely developing. This injection gives 3 months of protection against pregnancy.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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