Fertility fears for hundreds of women after contraceptive implants go 'missing' inside their bodies
Implanon device contains a progesterone-like hormone that is released slowly into the bloodstreamMHRA said there have been reports of problems with inserting and removing the implantOlder women could now be left with no chance of having children
12:49 GMT, 5 September 2012
Hundreds of women have had their fertility put in jeopardy after a popular contraceptive implant was apparently 'lost' in their bodies.
The Implanon device, hundreds of thousands of women in the UK, is the size of a matchstick and is inserted under the skin of the upper arm, in a procedure that needs to be carried out by a trained doctor.
Over three years it slowly releases the hormone progesterone into the blood, which stops the ovaries from releasing eggs and makes the
womb less receptive.
Once it has run its course the device, manufactured by Merck, is meant to be removed.
However, a number of worried women have revealed on online forums that doctors have been unable to locate the device.
The Implanon implants slowly release a hormone into the bloodstream which gives contraceptive protection for three years
A forum user called Claire T, posted on Netmums: 'Has anyone else had a problem with their implanon going missing
went to have mine removed 5 months ago but the doctor couldnt feel where
it was so sent me for an ultrasound which didn't find it so i am now
waiting for an MRI scan to see if that picks it up.
'I'm so worried it will never be found!'
Kelly W replied she had the device in for 18 months. Adding: 'When I had it out it had moved an inch up my arm from the original scar.
'The doctor said that it was really odd because fatty tissue keeps it
where its inserted almost instantly. He really was shocked.'
Nici Davies, 37, from London, was offered the implant in 2010 and said she was told it could easily be removed when she wanted children.
However, when she requested it be taken out this April she said three different doctors failed to find the device. She is awaiting a scan but has been warned the device may never be found.
She told The Sun today: 'The implant can last five years. I am left with no chance of having children.'
She added: 'Why do they push implants for older women if they know this can happen'
The device is just over an inch long and doesn't show up under X-rays
The controversial implants first hit the news last year when a group of women launched legal action after they received the device but still became pregnant.
A total of 584 women who had the small rod inserted in their
arms reported unwanted pregnancies to the Medicines and Healthcare
Regulatory Agency – the Government’s drugs and medical devices
watchdog. The MHRA found in some cases that the device had not been inserted at all.
The watchdog received 1,607 complaints about the
implant going wrong, some from doctors deeply concerned that it is impossible to check if they are
correctly installed because they are invisible to X-rays.
manufacturer MSD, a subsidiary of global pharmaceutical giant Merck,
has now replaced it with an updated product called Nexplanon, which has a
new pre-loaded applicator and contains barium so it can be detected by X-ray or CT scan.
However, it has not recalled the existing stock of Implanon, meaning women are still being given it.
Despite this, the Department of Health has advised there is no cause for concern with the devices. They said no form of contraceptive is 100 per cent effective and anyone with concerns should visit their GP.
The MHRA said there had been reports of problems with inserting and removing Implanon. However, it advises that women who can feel their implant and within the three-year timeframe do not need to take any action.
A spokesman for Implanon's U.S manufacturer Merck, told The Sun: 'On the rare occasion the implant can't be located, there is a process for the healthcare professional to follow and they can contact the manufacturer.'
The company has been approached for further comment.