Long Acting Reversible Contraception

Did you know that about half of the pregnancies reported each year in this country are unplanned?

The percentage is even higher for young girls and for minorities. As long as people are sexually active, there will always be a chance that a pregnancy will occur. Certain methods of birth control are much more effective than others. Women and girls who do not want to get pregnant or who should not get pregnant due to health issues should be encouraged to look into LARCs.

LARC stands for Long Acting Reversible Contraception. Examples of LARCs include IUDs and hormonal implants. At HealthNet, many of our providers are trained to insert IUDs such as the Mirena, Paragard, and Skyla as well as the Nexplanon implant.

  • The Mirena is a 5 year intrauterine device that contains the hormone progesterone.
  • The Skyla is very similar, but it is smaller and only lasts for 3 years.  This is a good option for patients who have never had a baby.
  • The Paragard is also an Intrauterine Device, but it does not have hormones.  It is made of copper and works for 10 years.
  • The Nexplanon is a rod that is placed in the arm and slowly releases a hormone.  This method can offer protection for up to 3 years.
All of these birth control options can be taken out at any time if you decide that you want to become pregnant.

Why use long acting reversible contraception?

Long active reversible contraceptives are very effective forms of birth control.  Currently only about 6% of women and girls in the United States are using this method compared to 20-30%  in European, African and Asian countries.  The most common form of birth control in the United States is the birth control pill.  Unfortunately, this is considered one of the least effective forms of hormonal birth control.

One of the biggest problems with the most commonly used birth control methods is compliance. We live busy lives. We forget to take the pill or show up for our Depo appointment or to change out the ring. With LARC devices, we see these issues less often because once it is placed, it works whether we remember it or not.  If you are not planning on having a baby in the near future, a LARC device can be the most effective method available.  Another advantage of these LARC devices is that they can be used for most women. Some women are not able to use certain birth control methods due to medical issues. Now we have options for these women. According to the CDC, these patients should be counseled about LARC methods and encouraged to use them to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Why are LARCs important? 

By increasing the use of LARCs, we can reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies.  By reducing unintended pregnancies we can also help keep young girls in school and help give these girls the chance to attend college or begin their careers. We have to continue to provide access to birth control for these ladies. Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace must cover family planning services.  If you are interested in talking with someone about your birth control options, contact a HealthNet location near you to make an appointment with one of our midwives or OBGYN doctors!

Post by Megan McDonald, CNM

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