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Long Acting Reversible Contraception

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What is a LARC?

 Long-acting reversible contraception involves methods of birth control that offer effective and reversible contraception over a long period of time.

These options include:

  1. Depo Provera injection (see below section headed “Depo Provera”) offering up to 3 months protection
  2. The IUD – an intrauterine device that may last 5 year or longer (see section headed “The IUD”
  3. Lastly a skin implant that also lasts up to 5 years.

Also note that none of the following options can prevent you from catching sexually transmittable infections. It is vital that you also use condoms and lubricants to ensure sexual safety.

The advantages of Using a LARC?

  • These forms of contraception last significantly longer
  • They are not associated with the risks involved with forgetting to take the pill or misusing a condom.


Depo Provera:

Depo provera is an injection of one hormone – progestogen. It stops the ovaries from releasing an egg each month and makes changes to the lining of a women’s womb.

What are the chances of getting pregnant when using depo provera?

Much less than 1%, which makes it a highly effective means of contraception.


• One injection lasts 12 weeks
• Doesn’t interfere with sexual intercourse
• Usually no periods which can be an advantage for many women

  • Evidence of reduction of cancer of the lining of the womb of up to 80%

Almost all women are able to use this option, including women who can’t use the contraceptive pill

  • Must be prescribed by a doctor
  • Periods and fertility take an average of 6 months to return after stopping the injection, so if you are considering becoming pregnant in the near future you might want to explore other options
  • May have side effects, e.g. weight changes, rare allergic reaction, for some women it has been associated with a reduction in bone density
  • When using depo provera there is a very slight increase in risk of getting breast cancer
  • Not advised for women who have had breast cancer
  • Irregular periods, no periods or occasional heavy bleeding



(Intra Uterine Device)

What is an IUD?

The (IUD) is a form of birth control in which a small 'T'-shaped device, containing either copper or progesterone, is inserted into the uterus by a medical practitioner. It is inserted when it is clear that a woman is not currently pregnant.

There are two IUDS to be aware of. The first is the copper IUD, the second called “Mirena” contains a hormone called progestogen which involves the slow release of the hormone into the womb.

Both the copper and hormone released by the IUD prevents the egg being fertilised by inhibiting the sperm from reaching the egg. If fertilisation does result the IUD is able to prevent the egg from implanting into the womb.

How successful is the IUD?

Overall both forms of IUDS are regarded as around 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Changes to my body when using IUDS?

There are some changes in bleeding patterns to be aware of. When using “Mirena” you might find your periods are lighter and longer for up to 6 months, after this time frame bleeding for most women may become lighter or stop all together. Using a Copper IUD also can bring about changes in bleeding patterns which may during the first six months include anything from spotty to light or even heavy bleeding which may eventually diminish.

What are the advantages?

  • Can be used by most women.
  • The benefit of a long lasting option that requires no maintenance once inserted (up to 5 years)
  • Highly successful
  • Allows for uninterrupted sex
  • Allows for quick return to fertility once removed
  • Easy to remove by a medical professional if you change your mind
  • No evidence if risk to the women
  • The change in bleeding pattern especially with Mirena can bring about more manageable periods e.g. lighter or stopping all together

What are the disadvantages?

  • Does require to be medically inserted or removed
  • Some medical risks including, small chance of infection, or in rare cases damage to the womb
  • The possibility of rare pregnancy
  • Risk that the IUD might become dislodged
  • Changes to the bleeding cycle as identified above
  • Rare allergic reaction to the copper IUD
  • Women need to be infection free before inserting
  • Copper IUDs can be problematic for women who already have heavy or uncomfortable periods, leading to greater discomfort


Contraceptive Implant:

What is a contraceptive implant?

A contraceptive implant is a birth control device, which involves small rods being inserted under the skin (the inside of your arm) by a medical practitioner. It prevents pregnancy through the release of hormones that inhibits the ovaries from releasing eggs during the month and by thickening cervical mucous, preventing the sperm from being able to meet the egg. This option can provide protection against an unplanned pregnancy for a period of 3 to 5 years.

How successful is it?

It is a very safe and effective form of contraception and has been found to be over 99% successful in preventing pregnancy.

It is common for most women to notice changes in their bleeding patterns when they have an implant inserted. It is not unusual for women to experience anything from a lighter period, to heavy or non existent bleeding. While this is not regarded as a medical concern, occasionally some women my chose to remove her implant due to the disruption of their normal cycles.


  • Suitable for most women.
  • Easy to use, as once it is administered you don’t need to worry about managing your contraception during the protective timeframe
  • Very effective option
  • Minimal impact on fertility once removed with a rapid return to fertility


  • Not suitable for women with a history of breast cancer
  • Might not be the most appropriate option for some women on certain medications, it is important to discuss with your  doctor if this is the best contraceptive choice
  • The procedure needs to be performed by a competent medical professional, this may also include difficulty in removing and the appropriate referral made.
  • There may be issues related to bleeding, which may include periods stopping for some women or irregular or longer bleeding. These are not harmful to your body and are not a sign the implant is not working properly.
  • Bruising, soreness or infection.


For more information contact your local doctor, or to learn more about Family Planning resources, clinics and health promotion services go to their website, at familyplanning.org.nz.



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