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Myths about long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)



Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are the most effective methods of contraception as you don’t have to remember to take them everyday.

There are four different methods and each last for a different length of time, depending on the type but they all have one thing in common – you don’t have to use them every day or each time you have sex. The four methods of LARC are:

  • implant - this lasts up to 3 years
  • injection - this needs to be administered every 12-13 weeks
  • IUD - this lasts 5-10 years depending on the type
  • IUS - this lasts 3-5 years depending on the type

There are many myths surrounding LARC so we have highlighted the top 10 myths below and have answered each one.


1

"You need parental permission to access LARC methods."

False. Healthcare professionals are legally allowed to provide contraceptive advice and treatment to young people under the age of 16 without parental consent.

2

"Fertility doesn't go back to normal after using LARC methods."

False. The IUS, IUD and implant can be removed at any time by a trained healthcare professional. These methods are suitable for most people of reproductive age, and fertility will return quickly once removed. It is important to remember if you stop using a method of contraception and you don't want to get pregnant then you must start to use a different method straight away.

Leaving LARC methods in longer than their expiry will not cause infertility; on the contrary, their effectiveness will be reduced, so it is important to get them replaced or start an alternative method of contraception when they expire.

However, after having the contraceptive injection the return of your fertility may be delayed (for some this may be as long as a year) because it cannot be removed once administered.

3

"You can still be fitted with the IUS or IUD while you are pregnant."

False. The IUD and IUS are used to prevent pregnancy so should not be used if there is any chance of pregnancy as this may cause an ectopic pregnancy.

4

"Getting an implant will hurt."

False. The implant is fitted by a healthcare professional that has been trained specifically to perform this procedure. Local anaesthetic is used to numb the area so should not be painful. The implant is inserted under the skin using a specialist device.

After the insertion you are advised to keep the area clean and dry. A small dressing can be left in place for a number of days. The healthcare professional will explain to you that with any procedure there is always a very small risk of infection. However, if you follow the advice given this should be unlikely. Very often paper stitches are only used when the implant is removed. These are normally left in place for up to 5 days – and you can remove yourself.