What is Implanon?

Implanon (also sold under the brand name Nexplanon) is a form of hormonal birth control approved in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. Implanon is a flexible, plastic rod—4cm in length, or the size of a matchstick—implanted beneath the skin on a woman’s upper arm. The implant gradually releases etonogestrel (a synthetic version of the hormone progestin), for up to 3 years. The release of etonogestrel prevents ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus. It has found to be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Hormonal Birth Control and Side Effects

Headaches are a common side effect of many hormonal birth controls. In fact, when Implanon was studied in a clinical trial, 25% of women reported migraines or headaches as the most common side effect. Other common side effects include:

  • Changes in menstrual cycles
  • Changes in mood/depression
  • Acne
  • Weight gain

If you’re experiencing headaches while taking Implanon, talk to a doctor immediately. You may be experiencing migraines, but you could also be suffering from a more serious health condition: idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).

What is Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)?

The brain and spinal cord are surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which serves as a cushion to protect both the brain and spinal cord from injury, as well as aids in nourishment and evacuation of waste. Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) is a condition caused by a high increase of CSF in the spaces between the brain and spinal cord (with no apparent cause)—which in turn increases pressure on the brain. Increased pressure on the brain is often a symptom of a developing brain tumor; however, upon further examination, a brain tumor is not present in individuals diagnosed with IIH.

*IIH has been previously referred to as psuedotumor cerebri, meaning “false brain tumor.” 

Symptoms and Risk Factors for IIH

Symptoms of IIH may include the following:

  • Severe headaches
  • Vision loss (e.g. poor peripheral vision, seeing double, and blind spots)
  • Episodes of temporary blindness (though many patients have permanent loss of vision)
  • Tinnitus (i.e. ringing in the ears)
  • Shoulder and neck pain

There is no known cause of IIH. However, experts do know that women between the ages of 20 and 50 are of the most commonly diagnosed with IIH. Men receive only 5% of the diagnoses in the United States. Obesity—especially obese women—are also at a higher risk for developing the condition. Some reports indicate a possible hereditary connection, suggesting that genetics may play a role in IIH. Research in this field is ongoing.

Implanon and IIH

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 1995 linking 56 cases of IIH to another type of sub-dermal contraceptive implant, Levonorgestrel (sold by the brand name Norplant). Like Implanon, Levonorgestrel is a synthetic progestin. While there has yet to be conclusive evidence that Implanon causes IIH, the condition’s connection to obesity and gender could indicate that hormones are a strong contributor to IIH.

Why File an Implanon Lawsuit?

A lack of conclusive evidence shouldn’t discourage any victim from filing a claim against drug manufacturers for Implanon-related injuries. You never asked to spend thousands in medical expenses; you never asked to experience pain and suffering; and you never asked to have your quality of life taken from you. Even the smallest chance that Implanon caused an IIH diagnosis may be grounds to file an Implanon lawsuit.

Hire an Implanon Lawyer in Indianapolis

If you or a loved one have experienced complications or have been diagnosed with IIH while taking Implanon, contact the Indianapolis Implanon attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham for a free case evaluation. Contact our Indianapolis firm at 317.920.6400 or fill out an online form below.


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