According to a local news channel in Beaufort County, South Carolina, an unnamed county resident recently received a $600,000 settlement from the state’s insurance fund over a complication from her birth control implant.
The woman reportedly had a Nexplanon implant inserted in her arm in January of 2014 at Beaufort Clinic. She consequently sought care at a regional medical center multiple times due to misplacement of the implant, and eventually, the implant was removed. Since Beaufort Clinic was “owned by the State of South Carolina with Beaufort County,” according to a redacted court document, the woman filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control for its failure to perform “a simple medical procedure.” The news channel verified that the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund did indeed make a $600,000 payout to resolve the case.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website, Nexplanon is “a thin, 2-inch plastic rod that uses hormones to prevent pregnancy for 3 years. A clinic doctor or nurse inserts it under the skin on the inside of your arm.” Nexplanon claims the device is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy with both typical and perfect use. The drug prevents pregnancy by slowly releasing a synthetic form of progesterone that thickens the woman’s cervical mucus to make it inhospitable to sperm, prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg, and thins the uterine lining so that an in the event that an egg is released and fertilized, the embryo can not successfully implant there.
The drug’s website itself warns about significant medical concerns related to Nexplanon, which (together with IUDs) has been increasingly recommended by medical professionals seeking to prescribe long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) for their patients. Nexplanon is contraindicated for anyone with a history of blood clots, liver disease or a tumor, unexplained vaginal bleeding, breast cancer, or any “other cancer that is sensitive to progestin (a female hormone), now or in the past.” Caution is also urged for women who have “diabetes, high cholesterol or triglycerides, headaches, gallbladder or kidney problems, history of depressed mood, (or) high blood pressure.”
Common side effects of the implant include “headaches; vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina); weight gain; acne; breast pain; viral infection such as sore throats or flu-like symptoms; stomach pain; painful periods; mood swings, nervousness or depressed mood; back pain; nausea; dizziness; pain and pain at the site of insertion. Implants have been reported to be found in a blood vessel, including a blood vessel in the lung.”
Among the website’s warnings, “The implant may not be placed in your arm at all due to failed insertion. If this happens, you may become pregnant. Removal of the implant may be very difficult or impossible if the implant is not where it should be. Special procedures, including surgery in the hospital, may be needed to remove the implant… Other problems related to insertion and removal include pain, irritation, swelling, bruising, numbness and tingling, scarring, infection, injury to the nerves or blood vessels, and breaking of the implant. Additionally, the implant may come out by itself.”
Live Action News previously covered the story of a woman whose implant migrated to her lung, just as the website warns can happen. In a separate incident, a Maryland mother was shocked to learn that her teenage daughter’s yearlong issues with headaches and soreness were caused by improper placement of Nexplanon that was administered without parental consent. In addition, a college student told of her experience with new-onset depression and suicidal ideation after Nexplanon implantation.
Nexplanon users are also sharing their own stories, like the video from this woman:
Nexplanon is just an updated version of Implanon, which contained the same synthetic form of progesterone and was discontinued in 2011. Nexplanon was formulated to show up more easily on diagnostic imaging in case it migrates or is improperly placed.
While the Nexplanon website does not quantify women’s risks for the various known side effects, a Danish study found “that women using Nexplanon were at a 40% increased risk for blood clots compared to those not using hormonal birth control.”
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