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Long-acting reversible contraception — is it for me?

Long-acting reversible contraception — is it for me?

The type of contraception each woman uses is based on many things. Personal preference, lifestyle, and even your health can have an impact on what kind of contraception you choose.

The most popular reversible methods used today are the pill and condom. But these have some drawbacks: you have to remember to take the pill each day, and you have to use a condom correctly each time. What if you could use a highly effective method that didn’t require so much work? That’s where long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) comes in.

What is long-acting reversible contraception?

LARC, which includes the birth control implant and intrauterine device (IUD), is effective, reversible, and easy to use. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says they are the most effective methods of birth control available. They say their effectiveness is equal to that of female sterilization (getting your tubes tied). But the obvious advantage here is their ability to be removed so you can get pregnant later if you choose.

Today’s IUD choices

There are two types of IUDs used today, and both are safe and effective. They include:

  • The hormonal IUD, which can be used for three to five years. It contains progestin, which effectively prevents pregnancy without using estrogen. And because the IUD’s hormones go directly to the uterus, there are generally fewer side effects than with the pill. Women who use the hormonal IUD typically find their periods get lighter and may stop altogether.
  • The copper IUD, which can be used for up to 10 years. This method has no hormones, and no adverse interactions with other medications. It’s also quickly reversible, so once you have it removed, you can try to get pregnant right away. Some women experience heavier periods or more cramping in the first few months, so talk with your physician about this if you have concerns.

IUDs can be inserted in your gynecologist’s office, and you can resume normal activity within a day or so as your physician recommends. Some women do experience minor discomfort during the procedure, but it’s short-lived and taking a pain reliever may help. One of the advantages of the IUD is its low cost. Its ability to work for years means you don’t have to buy more pills or condoms.

The implant

The birth control implant releases progestin, similar to the hormonal IUD. But instead of being inserted in the uterus, a tiny rod is placed under the skin on the inside of the upper arm. Once it’s in, you cannot see it. It can be used for three years, and then it should be removed and replaced with a new rod. The procedure is typically painless and others will not be able to tell you had it done.

Not for STD protection

Remember that LARC is for couples who are in monogamous relationships without the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A condom is still the only effective way to prevent STDs. Some women may wish to use LARC to effectively prevent pregnancy, as well as a condom to prevent STDs.

If you’re wondering if LARC is right for you, talk with your gynecologist. Together, you can make a decision that works for your health and your life.

CarePoint Health Gynecology

With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.

Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.


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