Long-acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)

Long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) devices are birth control methods that provide effective contraception for an extended period of time. You do not have to think about contraception on a daily basis or every time you have sex, as with the oral contraceptive pill or condoms. Long-acting reversible contraception is highly effective in preventing unintended pregnancies, and can be stopped if you decide you want to get pregnant.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives include the following:

  • Implants – these are inserted under the skin and last for up to 3 years.
  • Intrauterine devices – these are inserted into the womb and last for 5 to 1 years before they need replacing.
  • Contraceptive injections – these work up to 12 weeks before been repeated.

Currently all LARC methods are for women, as there are no long-acting reversible contraceptives designed for men yet.

Make sure you have sufficient information from your doctor or nurse before you decide which long-acting reversible contraceptive is right for you. Information should be verbal as well as written. You’ll need to check with your doctor or nurse as particular contraceptive methods may not be suitable for you. Your doctor will enquire about your general health, medical problems, periods and previously used contraceptives. Before starting any method your doctor will need to check that you are not pregnant.

Some long-acting reversible contraceptives take effect immediately, depending on when in you cycle you start using them. Other methods may not be immediate in which case additional contraception may be required.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms can help protect against these infections and your doctor or nurse can provide more information on this.

All the methods mentioned in this leaflet can generally be used by:

  • Women of any age
  • Women who have never had children
  • Women who are breastfeeding, or recently have had a child
  • Women who recently had an abortion
  • Women who are overweight
  • Women with diabetes
  • Women with epilepsy
  • Women who suffer from migraines
  • Women who can’t use oestrogen containing contraceptives
  • Women who are HIV positive