Long-Acting Contraception

Mar 5, 2021 | Past Sponsored

All Women OB/GYN can be reached at 502.895.6559.

Life is busy…maybe you’re in school, balancing studying, volunteer work and a part-time job. Maybe you’re a mom, working full-time and managing dinner, housework and homework in the evenings. Even if you’re a recent empty nester and in that perimenopausal stage anxiously awaiting the start of menopause, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), may be right for you.

LARC has gained considerable popularity in the past 15 years, mainly for its ability to offer safe, effective, long-term birth control without requiring ongoing effort by the patient. Gone are the days of struggling to remember to take a daily pill and deal with problematic bleeding when a pill is skipped. In addition, once the LARC device is removed, a woman’s fertility returns without delay.

There are two types of LARC available in the United States. The first is the intrauterine device, or IUD, and there are five different IUD options available. One is the copper-containing IUD that is a great choice for women who desire reliable contraception that is nonhormonal. The IUD’s contraceptive effects are through inhibiting sperm’s mobility and viability. The most common side effects associated with copper IUD are heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain. The other four IUD options are levonorgestrel-releasing devices that differ in the amount of progestin they release, their length of effectiveness (ranging from 3 to 6 years), size and manufacturer. These levonorgestrel-containing IUDs work by making the cervical mucus a better barrier to sperm. Since they release progestin, the endometrial lining is kept thin and thus can help with lessening menstrual flow. Overall, complications from IUDs are uncommon, but women may experience headache, breast tenderness, mood changes and ovarian cyst formation.

The second type of LARC available is the single-rod implant, which contains etonogestrel and is placed under the skin of the arm. The implant is effective for three years and is the most effective hormonal contraceptive on the market. Its contraceptive effects are through suppression of ovulation and changing the cervical mucus. The thinning of the endometrial lining also contributes to light to no menses. It has similar side effects to the levonorgestrel IUDs.

LARC devices can be inserted at any time in the menstrual cycle, as long as pregnancy can be excluded. They can be placed postpartum and are safe for breastfeeding mothers. They are safe in adolescent patients and in women who have not had a child yet. If you are interested in using LARC, please reach out to our office to discuss which option is best for you.

All Women OB/GYN is located at 4010 Dupont Circle, Suite L-0, Louisville, KY 40207.

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