Women's Health Texas – San Antonio

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

Long-acting reversible contraception is the most effective reversible method

Long-acting reversible contraception, or LARC, is long lasting, easily reversible birth control. It is easy to use and highly effective. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has found these methods are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch or the ring. In fact, fewer than 1 in 100 women using an IUD or an implant will become pregnant.

How does long-acting reversible contraception work?

There are three types of long-acting reversible contraception.

The copper IUD works by preventing sperm from fertilizing eggs.

The hormonal IUD also prevents sperm from fertilizing eggs. The hormone it releases makes cervical mucus thicker, which makes it more difficult for sperm to travel to the fallopian tubes and fertilize the egg. It also affects the ability for the egg to migrate down the fallopian tube.

The hormonal birth control implant primarily prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation. The implant also contains hormones that thicken cervical mucus and thin the uterine lining.

LARC provides continuous birth control for three to 10 years

Our San Antonio OBGYNs position the IUD type of long-acting reversible contraception in the uterus during your menses. It is an office-based procedure. Once in place, the copper IUD can provide birth control for up to 10 years. The hormonal IUD, which releases progestin, provides contraception from three to five years.

The copper IUD works as soon as it is placed. The hormonal IUD (uterus) and the birth control implant (arm) begin working about seven days after the procedure. Patients should use another form of birth control for the first two weeks.

The birth control implant is inserted into your arm after our San Antonio OBGYNs numb your skin. This in-office procedure only takes a few minutes.

The benefits and risks of LARC

Long-acting reversible contraception provides several benefits.

  • It’s a “set it and forget it” birth control method. Once the device is in place, you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Your birth control is undetectable.
  • There is no interference with daily life or sexual activities.
  • It can be used immediately following childbirth, a miscarriage, an abortion and while breastfeeding.
  • It is entirely reversible. Just have your doctor remove the device when you are ready to attempt pregnancy.

In addition, the hormonal IUD can be helpful for women who experience menstrual problems such as heavy bleeding or pain. The copper IUD can also be a form of emergency contraception.

Potential risks for long-acting reversible contraception include irregular bleeding and spotting between periods, or heavy menses, infection and perforation. Patients should also remember that these devices do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. As a result, unless you and your partner are monogamous, you should use a condom for protection.

Our San Antonio OBGYNs are happy to discuss long-lasting reversible birth control’s benefits and risks with you. Contact us for an appointment.