LARCs (Long-acting reversible contraceptives)

Studies have shown that within the United States approximately 42% of adolescents aged 15-19 years old have had sexual intercourse. Although the majority of these sexually active adolescents identify that they have used some method of contraception within their lifetime, the methods utilized are attributed with a high failure rate including condoms, oral contraceptives, and withdrawal. In 2012, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) revised their practice guidelines and advised that sexually active adolescents who are at high risk for an unintended pregnancy should consider Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs) as a contraceptive option.

Although there are several methods available for contraception there are only two types of LARCs; Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) and Implants. Both the IUD and the implant are classified as the most effective forms of reversible contraception available with fewer than 1 in 100 women becoming pregnant in the first year of use. IUDs are small, flexible, ‘T’ shaped devices that inserted into the uterus by a trained medical professional. As a result of the options that are available, IUDs are effective from 3 to 5 years and up to 10. Contraceptive implants are a thin rod made from a flexible form of plastic that is inserted just under the skin of upper arm. Implants are effective for up to 3 years and both IUDs and Implants can be removed at any time so that a woman may become pregnant.

While IUDs and Implants are not new, extensive misconceptions regarding them still exist. For example, IUDs do not cause an abortion, they do not increase the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and they are safe for most women, including those who have had children and adolescents. Additionally, in regards to implants, the insertion and removal is not painful, they are not noticeable to the naked eye, and they can be used on women of all shapes and sizes.

LARCs are safe, effective, inexpensive, reversible, require little to no maintenance and should be considered when discussing contraceptive options. However, it is important to mention that although there are several benefits that LARCs can provide consumers they do not protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections and condoms still need to be used to prevent transmission.

For questions on this topic or other reproductive health concerns, or to schedule an appointment for reproductive health services, call 1-877-275-6123.