General Contraception

Advantages of the Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) methods

  • Most effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Do not require you to remember to take/do something e.g. take a pill each day.
  • Long acting – once you start the effectiveness lasts up to 3 months (injection), 3 years (implant), 3-5years (IUS) and 5-10 years (IUD), although you can choose for the implant, IUD or IUS to be removed earlier if you prefer.
  • Offer non-contraceptive health benefits – e.g IUS treats problematic periods, such as heavy, prolonged or painful periods - commonly periods become lighter, shorter, less frequent and may disappear altogether. Implant and injection can also help reduce the frequency, heaviness of your bleeding patter and make you stop bleeding altogether. IUS can be a component of hormone replacement therapy for women reaching the menopause.
  • Oestrogen containing methods are often not suitable for some women because of medical conditions and/or lifestyle factors such as migraines, being overweight, smoking, those who have had (or are at high risk for) heart disease, stroke disease, or blood clots in the legs/lungs (venous thromboembolism).
  • Minimal drug interactions. Compared to the oestrogen containing methods and progestogen pill, if you take other medicines with your LARC method they will be less likely to reduce the effectiveness of your contraception.
  • Contains no hormones / has the least hormones. The IUD contains no hormones so won't cause hormonal side effects and you can still expect to see your natural cycle. The IUS comes in a range of hormonal doses, all of which are very low compared to other hormonal methods (eg pill). The IUS releases the hormone progestogen in the uterus where it works locally and the risk of having hormonal side effects is less likely.
  • Reversibility. With the implant, IUS, IUD - your fertility is rapidly restored once they are removed.
  • Suitable for any woman of reproductive age regardless of previous pregnancies.

Disadvantages

  • The implant, IUS and IUD need to be fitted and/or removed by a healthcare professional, in a clinic. The fitting is a short procedure – it can cause some discomfort but anaesthetic can be offered in some clinics.
  • There are a small number of uncommon complications that can happen for e.g. skin infection at the site of insertion of the implant, or the IUD or IUS expels into the vagina.
  • When stopping the injection there may be a delay to fertility being restored, so its not ideal if you are planning a pregnancy in the immediate future.
  • As with other hormonal methods, you may experience some side effects from the implant and injection, less so with the IUS e.g. mood change, breast tenderness.
  • Only barrier methods – condoms – protect you from STIs.

SH.UK offers a range of free sexual health service such as STI testing, treatment and contraception across the UK. Simply register then complete an online consultation to order your free STI test kit.

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