When it comes to family planning and contraception, there are numerous options available to women. One of the most effective and convenient choices is Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs). LARCs are a game-changer in birth control as they offer long-term protection without requiring daily attention.
Many Avance Care Primary Care locations offer LARCs. If you are looking for an effective alternative to birth control pills, review the information here and then ask your primary care provider if LARCs might be a good option for you.
LARCs are a type of birth control that offers extended protection, ranging from several months to several years, depending on the specific method chosen. Unlike traditional contraceptive methods, such as birth control pills or patches, LARCs do not require daily attention. This reduces the risk of missed doses and increases their effectiveness.
It’s important to note that while LARCs are highly effective in preventing pregnancy, they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Therefore, using barrier methods like condoms in addition to LARCs is recommended, especially if you or your partner have multiple sexual partners or are at risk of STIs. Before choosing a contraceptive method, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to discuss your specific needs, medical history, and any potential side effects or risks associated with these methods.
Types of LARC
There are two main types of LARCs: intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): These are small, T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus by a healthcare professional. There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and copper. Hormonal IUDs release progestin, a hormone that prevents pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus, thereby blocking sperm from reaching the egg. Copper IUDs, on the other hand, create an inhospitable environment for sperm, preventing fertilization.
Contraceptive Implants: These are small, flexible rods inserted under the skin of the upper arm. They are so small, most women can’t see it after it is implanted. Mirena®, ParaGard®, Skyla®, and Nexplanon® are brands of implant. The implant slowly releases progestin, preventing ovulation and thickening cervical mucus to hinder sperm movement.
How do LARCs Work?
LARCs prevent pregnancy in a few different ways, depending on the type:
Some LARCs, like contraceptive implants, work by inhibiting ovulation. This means that an egg is not released from the ovaries, and without an egg, pregnancy cannot occur.
Hormonal IUDs and implants alter the cervical mucus, making it thicker. This makes it more difficult for sperm to swim through the cervix and reach the egg.
Copper IUDs release copper ions into the uterus, which are toxic to sperm, inhibiting their movement and preventing fertilization.
Benefits of LARCs
LARCs offer several advantages that make them an appealing birth control option for many women:
Once inserted, LARCs can protect against pregnancy for an extended period, ranging from 3 to 10 years, depending on the device. This eliminates the need for daily reminders to take a pill, increasing their reliability.
LARCs are among the most effective forms of birth control available, with a failure rate of less than 1% when used correctly. This makes them almost as effective as permanent sterilization.
Despite their long-term protection, LARCs can be easily removed by a healthcare professional if you decide you want to become pregnant or switch to another birth control method.
Minimal User Error
Unlike daily birth control pills or other methods that require strict adherence, LARCs are not dependent on user action, reducing the risk of human error.
Decreased Menstrual Pain and Bleeding
Hormonal IUDs may reduce menstrual pain and bleeding for some women.
No Hormonal Fluctuations
Copper IUDs and some contraceptive implants do not contain hormones, making them suitable for women who prefer non-hormonal birth control.
Choosing the Right LARC
When considering LARCs as your birth control option, there are a few factors to keep in mind:
Consult with a Healthcare Professional – Talk to your healthcare provider about your medical history, any underlying conditions, and your preferences to determine the most suitable LARC for you.
Duration of Protection – Consider how long you want to be protected from pregnancy, as different LARCs offer varying periods of effectiveness.
Hormonal vs. Non-Hormonal – Decide if you prefer a hormonal or non-hormonal method. Hormonal options may have additional benefits, such as reduced menstrual pain, but they might not be suitable for everyone.
Potential Side Effects – Although most women tolerate LARCs well and have positive experiences with minimal or no side effects, you should familiarize yourself with possible side effects associated with LARCs. See the FAQs below and ask your health care provider for information specific to the LARC you are considering. They will help you decide if a LARC is the right contraceptive option for you or suggest other suitable alternatives. Your health and well-being are essential, and your healthcare provider is there to support you throughout your contraceptive journey.
Cost and Insurance Coverage – Check with your insurance provider to see if LARCs are covered and consider the overall cost of the device and the insertion procedure.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) are a remarkable advancement in birth control options, offering women a highly effective, long-term solution with minimal user effort. Whether you choose an IUD or contraceptive implant, LARCs provide peace of mind, allowing you to focus on other aspects of life without worrying about daily birth control responsibilities. Consult with your healthcare provider to find the right LARC for you and take control of your reproductive health in the most convenient and effective way possible.
Frequently Asked Questions about Long-Acting-Reversible-Contraceptives
While Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) can last for years, they don’t have to. If you change your mind you can have them removed at any time. Removal is a simple procedure your healthcare provider will do in the office.
Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) methods are among the most effective contraceptives available, with a failure rate of less than 1% for both IUDs and contraceptive implants.
Yes, Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) methods are safe and effective for teenagers and young women. They can be used by women of all ages, regardless of whether they have had children before.
No, Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) methods do not provide protection against STIs. They only protect against unintended pregnancy.
IUD placement can be uncomfortable and cause some mild uterine cramping (like menses cramps). Pre-treatment with 600 mg of ibuprofen can assist in easing the discomfort. If it becomes too uncomfortable you can ask to discontinue the procedure at any point.
The duration of effectiveness varies depending on the specific type of Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) method. Some IUDs can last up to 3 to 10 years, while contraceptive implants typically last around 3 to 5 years.
Yes, Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) methods are generally safe to use while breastfeeding. However, it's always best to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss the most suitable option for your individual situation.
Yes. Please schedule an appointment specifically for Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC).
While Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) are generally safe and reliable, like any medication or medical procedure, they may have some side effects. It's essential to remember that not everyone experiences these side effects, and they may vary from person to person.
While the side effects below are possible, most people using LARCs have positive experiences with minimal or no side effects. If you have concerns about any side effects or if you experience anything unusual, don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider.
Here are some possible side effects of LARC:
Irregular bleeding: With LARCs, you might notice changes in your menstrual cycle. It could mean lighter or heavier periods, irregular bleeding, or spotting between periods. In some cases, your periods might even stop altogether.
Cramping or discomfort: Some people may experience mild cramps or discomfort after getting a LARC inserted. This usually goes away within a short period, but if it persists, you should talk to your healthcare provider.
Headaches: Occasionally, some individuals might experience headaches as a side effect of LARCs. These headaches are usually mild, but if they become severe or persistent, it’s essential to inform your healthcare provider.
Nausea: Some people may feel a bit nauseous after getting a LARC, but this side effect is usually temporary and should go away on its own.
Breast tenderness: You might notice your breasts feeling sensitive or tender. This side effect is not common, but if it happens and bothers you, let your healthcare provider know.
Changes in mood: A few individuals might experience slight changes in mood, such as feeling more irritable or emotional. These mood changes are generally temporary and tend to improve over time.
Weight changes: Some individuals may notice small changes in their weight while using LARCs. These changes are usually minor and not significant for most people.
Acne: In rare cases, a LARC might cause an increase in acne or other skin issues. If this happens, your healthcare provider can help you manage it.
Ovarian cysts: There is a slight chance of developing ovarian cysts while using a LARC. However, most cysts are harmless and often resolve on their own.