Implanon use OK during breastfeeding say FPA

18 April 2003

Implanon is an effective and convenient contraceptive method for women who are breastfeeding, according to FPA Health (formerly, Family Planning NSW).

(Implanon is a contraceptive medication device that is injected by your doctor as an implant under the skin of the inner, upper arm. It is effective as a contraceptive for 3 years.)

(Implanon is not formally approved for use during breastfeeding in Australia, and may only be used for this purpose under certain circumstances. For further information, speak to your doctor.)

In a new fact sheet, FPA Health has suggested that the amount of hormone found in the breast milk of women using Implanon is very small and unlikely to have any effect on the baby.

'We think it is probably a very good method for women who are breastfeeding because it doesn't contain any oestrogen, which affects breast milk, and it is a highly effective contraceptive,' said Dr Edith Weisberg, director of research at FPA Health.

'But women need to know ... that they can't start using it until 6 weeks after the birth of the baby,' Dr Weisberg said.

'The reason for this is that before 6 weeks, the baby's immature liver may have a problem coping with the etonogestrel (the active ingredient of Implanon).'

The fact sheet cited a study that followed breastfed babies for 3 years. It found no difference in the growth rate or general health of babies whose mothers were using Implanon while lactating, and babies whose mothers were not using a hormonal contraception.

The product information for Implanon states that breastfeeding mothers should only use Implanon when the possible advantages for the mother outweigh the risk for the child.

'Under these circumstances the growth and development of the child have to be observed conscientiously,' it warns.


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