Long-acting reversible contraception
What are long-acting methods of birth control? — Long-acting methods of birth control are devices or treatments that prevent pregnancy for months to years. These methods are the best choice for many women and teens who want birth control. That’s because they work so well to prevent pregnancy. People who use them also like not having to think about their birth control every day.
What are the different types of long-acting methods of birth control? — Long-acting birth control methods include:
●Intrauterine devices (IUDs) – These are small, T-shaped devices made of flexible plastic that a doctor or nurse puts through your vagina and cervix into your uterus. There are 4 different IUDs, called Paragard, Mirena, Liletta, and Skyla.
•Paragard contains copper. It can stay in place and keeps working for up to 10 years. It has minimal effect on your menstrual cycle.
•Mirena, Liletta and Skyla both release the hormone progestin. They can stay in place and keep working for 3 to 5 years. Most people experiences lighter periods due to the progestin hormone.
●Birth control implant – This is a flexible plastic rod that is 1.5 inches long and about the size of a match. A nurse
or doctor injects the implant under the skin on the inside of a woman’s upper arm. It contains progestin, which is
slowly released into the body. The implant, called Nexplanon, lasts for 3 years.
How well do long-term methods of birth control work? — Of all birth control options, long-term methods work the best to prevent pregnancy. Fewer than 1 in 100 women who have an IUD or birth control implant get pregnant during the first year of use.
What are the benefits and downsides of long-term methods of birth control? — The main benefit of long-term birth control is that you do not have to remember to do anything or take any medicines on a regular basis.
The main downside of these methods is that unlike condoms, they do not protect against infections you can catch during sex (called “sexually transmitted diseases” or “STDs”).
Because of the cost of putting in an IUD or implant, those choices are best for women who do not want to become pregnant for at least 1 year. A doctor or nurse needs to remove the IUD or implant when you don’t want to use it anymore.
What if I change my mind and want to get pregnant? — If you have an IUD or birth control implant, you can have the device removed. You will likely be able to get pregnant right away.
Content adapted from UpToDate Patient Information.