LARC – Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives – What Are They and How Do They Work?

LARC – Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives – What Are They and How Do They Work?

LARC – Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives – What Are They and How Do They Work?


Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) includes intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the subdermal implant. These methods are the most effective reversible methods of contraception, and have the additional advantages of being long-lasting, convenient, well-liked by users and cost effective.


Compared with other user-dependent methods that increase the risk of noncompliance-related method failure, LARC methods can bring ‘typical use’ failure rates more in line with ‘perfect use’ failure rates. LARC methods are ‘forgettable’; they are not dependent on compliance with a pill-taking regimen, remembering to change a patch or ring, or coming back to the clinician for an injection. LARC method failure rates rival that of tubal sterilization at <1% for IUDs and the subdermal implant.


For these reasons, we believe that IUDs and implants should be offered as first-line contraception for most women. This article provides a review of the LARC methods that are currently available in the US, including their effectiveness, advantages, disadvantages and contraindications. Additionally, we dispel myths and misconceptions regarding IUDs, and address the barriers to LARC use.


What Types of LARC’s Can I Choose From?

Prior to commencing a LARC there will be an assessment of your health and suitability for different methods. The practitioner should discuss benefits and any side effects or disadvantages of the different options and encourage you to ask questions to help you decide which method you prefer.


Brief information about the LARC methods available in Australia is provided below. More detailed information on these methods is available on the websites of State and Territory Family Planning organisations.


LARC methods include implants, IUDs (and IUB's) and injections


Intra-Uterine Devices as LARC’s

UD insertion and removal is performed by a doctor or nurse who has been trained in this procedure. Devices need to be replaced every 5-10 years depending on their type. IUDs can be removed easily at any time by a health professional and are immediately reversible on removal.

Both types of IUDs:


• are suitable for women of any age

• can be used by most women, even if they have any significant health issues

• require an insertion procedure which for some women may be uncomfortable

The hormonal IUD (Mirena®) is a T-shaped plastic device fitted inside the uterus, which slowly releases a progestogen hormone into the womb over a 5 year timeframe.


It thickens the mucus in the cervix; thins the lining of the uterus and effects the implantation of the egg. It is 99.8% effective.

Hormonal IUDs:

• reduce the amount of bleeding with periods and can be used to manage heavy menstrual bleeding

• may cause irregular bleeding and spotting in first few months after insertion

• can be left in until after menopause, if inserted after the age of 45


The Copper IUD or IUB  is a small device made from plastic and copper that is fitted inside the uterus.

It works by blocking sperm from reaching the egg and any fertilized egg from sticking to the wall of the womb (uterus) and is 99.2% effective – and NON-HORMONAL!

Copper IUDs:

• may increase the amount of bleeding with usual periods

• can be left in until after menopause if inserted after age 40


Things to consider before using a LARC are as follows:

LARC can be used by most women of any age including those who:

        can’t use contraceptives containing the hormone oestrogen due to health problems

        experience side effects with oestrogen, such as nausea or breast tenderness

        have migraines

        are heavy smokers

        have never had a baby

        are breastfeeding or have recently had a baby

        have recently had an abortion

        are overweight

        have diabetes

        have epilepsy

        are HIV-positive

        have inflammatory bowel disease



For more information on our non-hormonal, easily reversible and LARC the CopperPearls IUB, click here to get in touch with us today! 

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