What do you know about LARCs?
A LARC is a long-acting reversible contraceptive. Birth control is not one-size-fits-all, but a LARC may be right for you. They are a great option for a woman who perhaps wants a future pregnancy but desires effective, multi-year pregnancy prevention for now. Doctors prescribe it for women who have and have not had children. Implants and IUDs are reversible—when you decide you want to get pregnant, your doctor can remove it at any time. Implants and IUDs must be inserted and removed by a doctor.
Once the IUD or implant is in place, you will not need to do anything else to prevent pregnancy; however, you will need a condom to protect yourself from sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).
North Florida Women’s Care offers three brands of hormonal IUDs: Kyleena, Mirena, and Skyla. All use the same drug, the progestin hormone levonorgestrel. It also makes vaginal fluid thicker to help prevent sperm from reaching an egg (fertilization) and changes the lining of the uterus (womb) to prevent attachment of a fertilized egg. The IUD releases a small amount daily. The hormone prevents the release of an egg during your menstrual cycle; thickens vaginal fluid to prevent sperm from reaching an egg; and changes the lining of the uterus to prevent attachment of a fertilized egg. IUDs are FDA-approved to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. Mirena can reduce bleeding up to 90 percent after the first 6 months.
- Skyla releases 14 micrograms daily for up to 3 years.
- Mirena releases 20 mcg daily for up to 5 years.
- Kyleena releases 17.5 mcg daily for up to 5 years.
ParaGard is a non-hormonal IUD that can last up to 10 years! It works by releasing copper into the uterine lining, which creates an inflammatory reaction that inhibits sperm movement and egg fertilization, and may also prevent implantation.
Nexplanon is a flexible rod 4 cm long placed under the skin of your inner, upper arm. It slowly releases the progestin hormone etonogestrel. This works to the same effect as the hormonal IUDs: altering your uterine lining and thickening your cervical mucus to prevent ovulation, fertilization and implantation. It slowly releases a grand total of 68 mg of etonogestrel over 3 years.
A few other things you should know about LARCs:
- They are more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.
- You can still use tampons with an IUD. The IUD resides inside your uterus, not inside the vaginal canal.
- The implant is discreet. Typically, it is only noticeable if you are flexing your muscle or poking around to feel it.
- They will affect your period. Some women will experience lighter and/or shorter periods, or even have their periods cease. Other women will experience heavier periods and menstrual cramping. Typically, the hormonal LARCs lighten periods and nonhormonal ones increase them, but this is not universal or static.
- Serious IUD complications are rare.
The LARC types and brands mentioned above are all available at NFLWC. Consult with your gynecologist to see if a LARC is right for you and which type is best for your body. Then enjoy your well-earned stress reduction and peace of mind!