In February, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi introduced the country’s first below the skin implant to prevent pregnancy, called Implanon Nxt, as part of new national guidelines aimed to expand women’s birth control choices.
“One day, I was accompanying my sick friend to Maria Rantho Clinic when I found a health official presenting about implant family planning,” she said. “I decided not to miss the free opportunity.”
“All they needed from me was to see my family planning card,” she told OurHealth. “They also asked me if I have high blood pressure, tuberculosis or any other diseases in order to make sure I qualified for the implant.”
Katane first opted to use birth control in 2009 after the birth of her son. She says she was sold on the new, matchstick-sized implant after learning that it could prevent unwanted pregnancies for up to three years.
Health workers then inserted the small rod just beneath the skin of Katane’s upper arm. She said that she experienced very little pain apart from some soreness in her arm. This pain disappeared after four days, she added.
Implanon Nxt can have some side effects, including weight gain, acne and changes in mood. According to Katane, she noticed changes in her menstrual cycle and picked up eight kgs after she switched to the new birth control method.
Headaches are also listed as a side effect of the medication. Hilda Motshwene from Winterveldt said these headaches were bad enough that health workers advised her to remove Implanon Nxt and try a different form of contraception. She added that she definitely plans to have the tiny implant removed and explore her options.