Long-acting reversible contraception is safe and very effective
Long-acting reversible contraception, or LARC, is birth control that allows women to begin trying to conceive as soon as the devices are removed. The following options are the most effective reversible birth control methods available, other than permanent sterilization. They have an excellent safety record, and can be used by virtually all women. Our Grapevine and Alliance ObGyns place these devices in our offices, and they are proven effective.
Types of long-acting reversible contraception
Long-acting reversible contraception methods work by preventing sperm from fertilizing a woman’s eggs. The hormonal methods also thin the uterine lining and thicken cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus and a fertilized egg (embryo) to implant.
Long-acting reversible contraception methods include copper and non-hormonal IUDs and birth control implants. IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are inserted into the uterus, while birth control implants are inserted under a woman’s skin. Following insertion, both devices are left in place to provide continuous birth control.
- Copper IUDs can be left in place for 10 years. Copper IUDs do not contain hormones, and they can be used as emergency contraception methods.
Side effects of this type of long-acting reversible contraception include the possibility of bleeding between periods, as well as an increase in bleeding and pain during menstruation during the first months of use.
Hormonal LARC methods
Hormonal long-acting reversible contraception works by releasing the hormone progestin. The hormone released by the device may cause side effects in some women, including headaches, tender breasts, depression and/or nausea.
- Hormonal IUDs, once inserted into the uterus, can remain in place for three to five years. Hormonal IUDs can also be used to help women who are experiencing heavy bleeding and pain during menstruation because they decrease both of these issues.
This type of long-acting reversible contraception also has side effects. There is the potential for irregular bleeding and/or spotting during the initial three to six months of use.
- Birth control implants are very small, flexible rods that our Grapevine and Alliance ObGyns insert under the numbed skin, usually of the upper arm, using a special instrument. The implant provides continuous protection for up to three years.
The birth control implant can cause some side effects, such as irregular bleeding. Some women report that they gain weight when they use the implant, but no clear relationship has been established at this time.
Benefits of LARC methods
Long-acting reversible contraception is “set it and forget it birth control,” and provides women with many benefits, including no interference with sex and no outward sign that you are using birth control. Our Grapevine and Alliance ObGyns are happy to discuss today’s IUDs and birth control implants with you. Contact us.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that long-acting reversible contraception methods, over the long term, are “20 times more effective than birth control pills, patches or vaginal rings.”