2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the initial approval of Norplant®, the first long-lasting, reversible contraceptive implant. An innovation in contraception, the Norplant system consisted of six rods implanted in a woman’s upper arm that provided up to five years of pregnancy prevention – offering women the same discrete, highly effective, long-term, and reversible contraception offered by the IUD, without the need for a pelvic examination.
Inserting and removing six rods proved cumbersome, however, so Norplant never gained much traction globally. In the 30 years since its introduction, contraceptive implant technology has continued to evolve. Norplant’s successor, Jadelle offers the same level of pregnancy prevention but only entails two silicone rods.
Excitingly, Jadelle has played a pivotal role in bringing implants to the developing world after being approved by the (US) FDA in 2002. In 2006, another implant came onto the market. Implanon offers three years of pregnancy prevention in a single rod implant. Like Jadelle, Implanon has made an impact in the developing world. Because its delivery system is uniquely “preloaded”, health extension workers in developing countries are able to easily insert the implants.