Your guide to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC)

If not getting pregnant is important to you, then you may want to choose a contraceptive that fits in with your lifestyle. For many women, a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) is the perfect choice. That's because it provides continuous long-term contraception after one administration and avoids the inconvenience of using a contraceptive that needs to be taken daily or spoils the spontaneity of sex (for example, using a condom).

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are effective in preventing pregnancy, more so than oral contraceptive pills or condoms1 and their contraceptive effect starts immediately after placement. Furthermore, depending on which contraceptive they choose, some women also appreciate the additional benefit of a reduction in the amount of bleeding during their periods as well as less period pain2.

If you use the intrauterine system, the intrauterine device or the hormonal contraceptive implant and subsequently want to have a baby, you can start trying to get pregnant straight away after the removal of the contraceptive as there is no delay in a return to fertility3. However, if you stop having the 3-monthly contraceptive injections you may have to wait up to a year for your fertility to return3 although for most women the effect will have worn off 5 to 6 months after the last injection and over 80 % of women will conceive within a year of their last injection4.

If you have recently given birth, then you can start to use long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) soon afterwards as they can be used while breastfeeding5,6,4,7.

As none of the four long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) featured on this website contain estrogen, they are a good choice if you can’t use estrogen-containing contraceptives due to a pre-existing medical condition8.

So, whether you’ve never had children, are having a break between children, or are at a stage in your life when you don’t plan to have more children, a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) is a good alternative to other methods like the Pill, condoms, the contraceptive ring or sterilization.

What are my options?

There are four Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) that may be suitable for you

  1. Mansour D, Inki P. & Gemzell-Danielsson K. (February 2010). Efficacy of contraceptive methods: A review of the literature. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. 15:4–16
  2. Mirena: Product Monograph, Bayer AG, June 2014.
  3. Long-acting reversible contraception – the effective and appropriate use of long-acting reversible contraception. National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health. Commissioned by the National Institute for Health and Clinic Excellence, October 2005. Published by RCOG Press. ISBN 1-904752-18-7
  4. Depo-Provera patient information leaflet. Pharmacia. August 2010.
  5. Nova T 380– Copper Containing Intrauterine Device, Patient Information, Bayer AG, 14th January 2014.
  6. Nexplanon – information for the user. Patient Information. July 2010.
  7. Package leaflet: information for the user. Mirena: Corporate Patient Information. Bayer Schering Pharma. January, 2011.
  8. Use of Hormonal Contraception in Women With Coexisting Medical Conditions. ACOG Practice Bulletin. Clinical Management Guidelines For Obstetrician–Gynecologists, Number 73, JUNE 2006.