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Long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARC)

Helping you find contraception to suit your needs

LARC methods: the gold standard of the contraception world

LARC stands for long acting reversible contraception, such as the implant, coil and injection: once they’re fitted you can forget about them.

These methods are fantastic because not only are they the most effective and they don’t interrupt sex, but they also are reversible so, if you want to, you can plan a future pregnancy at a time that’s right for you.  

Long-acting methods

Long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods offer excellent protection against pregnancy, ranging from three months up to ten years. They're the gold standard of the contraception world!

They're ideal if you know that you do not want to have children for a while. In fact, once in place, you don’t need to think about these methods until they need replacing, and none of them interrupt sex. They are more reliable than short-acting methods as you don’t have to remember to take them each day, or use them each time you have sex.

Scroll down for more detailed information on long-acting contraceptive methods.

Types of LARC Contraceptive Methods

Implant

A long-acting reversible contraceptive method.

The implant is a small plastic tube that is about 4cm long and is inserted under the skin in your upper arm. The implant releases a hormone which stops the ovaries from releasing an egg.

The implant prevents pregnancy for up to three years, and is over 99% effective.

The implant is safe to use for as long as you need, and your fertility will return to normal when it is taken out. It is suitable for women who can’t use contraception with oestrogen in it.

The implant is inserted into your arm, which may be sore or swollen for a few days. You may experience some side effects, and the implant may affect your periods. If your bleeding pattern is unacceptable this can usually managed by your GP.

For more information please read the Family Planning Association (FPA) guidance  "Your guide to contraceptive implant".

Coil

A long-acting reversible contraceptive method.

A coil is a small, T-shaped plastic or copper device that is placed in a woman's womb and can provide contraceptive protection for up to ten years.

We offer two types of coil at Marie Stopes UK: a hormonal coil and a non-hormonal coil.

Hormonal coil

Also known as an intrauterine system (IUS), it is a small T-shaped plastic device inserted into your uterus. The IUS releases progestogen to prevent pregnancy for 3-5 years.

The IUS is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, and you don't have to think about contraception for up to 5 years. This method is suitable for women who cannot use contraception containing oestrogen, and once removed your fertility will return to normal.

It is common to experience bleeding or spotting in the first six months after having the IUS fitted, but after that your periods may become irregular, lighter, or stop altogether. This makes the IUS a very good choice for women who experience heavy or painful periods.

For more information please read the Family Planning Association (FPA) guidance "Your guide to the IUS"

Non-hormonal coil

An intrauterine device (IUD), or copper coil, is a small copper and plastic T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus. It releases copper, which prevents pregnancy by stopping the sperm and eggs surviving in the womb. The copper coil can remain in place for 5-10 years.

The IUD is suitable for most women, including if you are breastfeeding or unable to use hormonal methods of contraception. Once removed, your normal fertility will return straightaway. The IUD is very popular with women who dislike hormonal methods of contraception.

For more information please read the Family Planning Association (FPA) guidance "Your guide to the IUS"

Injection

A long-acting reversible contraceptive method.

There are two types of the contraceptive injection, Depo-Provera is given in the muscle in the bottom and the Sayana Press is self-administered beneath the skin in your tummy or top of the thigh and you can be taught to do this yourself.

They both contain the hormone progestogen, which is released into your blood to prevent pregnancy. The injection lasts up to 13 weeks at a time.


The injection can be given at any time during your menstrual cycle, and is more than 99% effective with perfect use, and 94% effective with typical use. It can be used while breastfeeding, and is also suitable if you can’t use oestrogens.
Your periods will probably be affected by the injection, and may stop altogether. Women who suffer from heavy or painful periods often like this method. Your fertility will return to normal but periods could be delayed for up to 18 months after stopping the injection.

For more information please read the Family Planning Association (FPA) guidance  "Your guide to contraceptive injection".

The implant: top of the pops for effectiveness

Typically, fewer than 1 in 100 people using an implant will get pregnant in one year. The implant is a small plastic rod, about the size of a small matchstick that’s put in under the skin in your arm- don’t worry we use a local anaesthetic to put it in and out so it doesn’t hurt, it might just sting a little. The implant lasts for up to three years and can help with pre-menstrual symptoms and can make your periods lighter. If you’ve never tried an implant then maybe give it a go- especially if you have a really busy life and can struggle to remember to take pills.

The coils: fit and forget methods

There are two different types of coil: the copper or IUD and the hormonal also known as the IUS. Both types are very reliable, last for 5 or 10 years, and typically fewer than 1 in 100 users will get pregnant in one year.  Either type can easily be removed by your GP practice or sexual health service and your fertility returns to normal straight away. The copper coil,  also known as intrauterine device or IUD,  is becoming really popular with those who dislike taking hormones.  

The injectable: last type of LARC methods

We have 2 types of these in the UK- depo provera which is given into the muscle- usually your bottom, and sayana press which is injected beneath the skin on your tummy or top of thigh-you can be taught to do this yourself. With perfect use the injectable methods are just as reliable as the implants and coils, but not many of us are perfect and with typical use 3 in 100 users will get pregnant in one year- this is because the injections have to be repeated every 3 months and sometimes this gets forgotten.

Contact us if you have any questions

Remember that contraception counselling is part of your abortion treatment: we are here to help you find a method of contraception that best suits your individual needs.

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