Your frequently asked questions about long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), your choices and key questions.

How long after stopping using a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) will I return to my previous fertility?

If you are using the intrauterine system (also known as the ‘hormonal coil’), the intrauterine device (also known as ‘the coil’ or copper IUD) or a contraceptive implant, then there is virtually no delay in returning to fertility1. However, it can take up to a year to return to fertility if you have been using the 3-monthly contraceptive injection1. However, in most women the effect will have worn off 5 to 6 months after the last injection. Over 80 % of women will conceive within a year of their last injection2.

Can I use long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) if I am breastfeeding?

There is no scientific evidence that long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) will harm your infant but hormonal contraceptives should not be started until at least 6 weeks after having given birth (4 weeks in the case of the contraceptive implant)3,4,2,5.

How long will a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) work for?

The intrauterine system will provide protection for up to 5 years; a copper intrauterine device gives contraceptive protection for up to 5 to 10 years6,3 depending on the model; a contraceptive implant can prevent you becoming pregnant for up to 3 years; the 3-monthly contraceptive injection gives you protection for 12 weeks for each injection3,4,2,5.

Will I put on weight?

Scientific studies have shown that in general, users of the intrauterine system, the intrauterine device, or a contraceptive implant will not experience any change to their body weight as a result of the contraceptive they are using1.

However, studies have shown that women using the 3-monthly contraceptive injection for 1-2 years of use have an average weight gain of around 2.3 – 3.6 kg and women completing 4-6 years of therapy gained around 6.4 – 7.5 kg2.

How difficult is it to remove the intrauterine system/intrauterine device/implant?

The intrauterine system and the intrauterine device are removed easily and usually painlessly by pulling from the threads by a healthcare professional. The removal of the contraceptive implant is done by a health care professional under local anesthesia from a small skin incision made at the lower end of the implant. Sometimes the removal of the implant may be more difficult, particularly if the implant has migrated from its original placement position3,4,5.

Can I use tampons with the intrauterine system or intrauterine device?

It is recommended that you use sanitary towels rather than tampons. However, if you do use tampons, change them with care so as to avoid pulling the threads of the intrauterine system or intrauterine device3,5.

Can the intrauterine system or intrauterine device fall out??

There is a small risk that your intrauterine system or intrauterine device can fall out of the womb (a process known as expulsion), either completely or partially. An unusual amount of bleeding during menstruation might be a sign that this has occurred. Use your fingers to feel for the threads of the intrauterine system or intrauterine device in the upper part of your vagina. If you can’t detect them, consult your healthcare professional3,5.

Can the implant migrate to a different location?

The implant may migrate from the original insertion site if it hasn’t been correctly placed or has been manipulated into another position, for example, through physical contact such as participation in contact sports4

Will my partner feel the presence of the intrauterine system or intrauterine device during sex?

IIt is possible that your partner may notice the threads. If it is a problem, then you can see your healthcare professional3,5.

Will long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) have an effect on my libido (sexual desire)?

A small number (typically less than 10 %) of women using the contraceptive implant and the 3-monthly contraceptive injection may experience a changed libido. Women using the intrauterine device or intrauterine system are unaffected3,4,2,5.

How do I check my intrauterine system or intrauterine device is still in place?

In the case of the intrauterine system or intrauterine device, you can use your fingers to try to feel for the presence of the threads in the upper part of your vagina These will have been trimmed during the initial placement procedure but enough left to allow you to check that the intrauterine system or intrauterine device is still in place3,5.

  1. 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
  2. Depo-Provera patient information leaflet. Pharmacia. August 2010.
  3. Nova T 380– Copper Containing Intrauterine Device, Patient Information, Bayer AG, 14th January 2014.
  4. Nexplanon – information for the user. Patient Information. July 2010. http://www.nexplanon.co.uk
  5. Package leaflet: information for the user. Mirena: Corporate Patient Information. Bayer Schering Pharma. January, 2011.
  6. Paragard T380A Prescribing Information. Duramed Pharmaceuticals, INC. 2006. http://www.paragard.com