Annual Women's Health Section
These birth control methods are good options for women seeking long-term pregnancy prevention.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives
Long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, are the most effective form of birth control currently available with a 99% success rate of pregnancy prevention. LARCs can provide pregnancy prevention for 3 to 10 years, depending on the type used, and are a great option for women seeking long-term yet reversible contraception. They are currently the second most popular form of reversible birth control in the United States with an increasing number of women choosing LARCs as their contraceptive method each year.
Types of LARC
There are currently three types of LARCs – two being intrauterine devices (IUDs), a small, T-shaped device inserted into the uterus.
Copper IUDs are a nonhormonal option. The IUD is wrapped in a small piece of copper that sperm avoids, preventing it from reaching the egg. Copper IUDs last 10 years, the longest of LARC methods.
Hormonal IUDs release a small amount of the progestin hormone levonorgestrel over time to prevent pregnancy. There are four brands of hormonal IUDs currently available in the United States, each providing protection for a different number of years.
Implants refer to a tiny plastic rod placed in the inner part of the upper, nondominant arm. It prevents pregnancy for three years by continuously releasing a low dose of etonogestrel, a form of progestin that prevents ovulation.
Your healthcare provider can install the LARC of your choosing during an outpatient procedure. The device will be removed by your provider upon expiration, or earlier should you wish to cease contraception.
In addition to being safe, FDA-approved methods, LARCs are also convenient. Unlike oral contraception, which must be taken daily at the exact same time to ensure maximum effectiveness, LARCs require no work on your part after installation. Because they are reversible, LARCs are a great option for women who may want to become pregnant in the future but in the meantime desire long-term birth control. If you are interested in long-acting, reversible contraception, speak with your provider, who can help you find the method that works best for your needs.