What is all this buzz about LARCs (long acting reversible contraception)?

  • Definition of LARCs: Long Acting Reversible Contraception
    • Includes Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) such as Mirena, Skyla, ParaGard
    • Includes subdermal implants such as Nexplanon
  • Even though modern LARCs were first introduced in the US in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the last decade that they have really taken off. The CDC released in February 2015 the most updated trends in LARC use among US women aged 15-44. Check out the buzz here
  • FAQ about LARCs:
    • **ACOG’s succinct answers to the most common patient questions regarding LARC use found here
    • How well do they work? Efficacy (aka effectiveness) of different types of birth control addressed in another OBGbuzz entry
    • When in my cycle or how soon after giving birth may I receive a LARC (from attached PDF)?
      • ACOG states that insertion of an IUD or an implant may occur at any time during the menstrual cycle as long as pregnancy may be reasonably excluded
      • ACOG also states that the immediate postpartum period is a particularly favorable time for IUD or implant insertion
    • How soon is the LARC effective after insertion (from attached PDF)?
      • ACOG recommends using a backup method (such as a condom) for 7 days after insertion of a Mirena or Skyla (levonorgestrel intrauterine system) or implants unless those devices are inserted within 5 days of initiating menses, immediately after childbirth or after abortion or immediately upon switching from another hormonal contraceptive
      • ACOG states no backup contraceptive method is needed after inserting the copper IUD (ParaGard) regardless of when in the menstrual cycle it is inserted
    • How much do LARCs cost?
      • While LARCs carry a high up-front cost, they are among the most cost-effective methods over the long term. As always, contact your insurance company to determine coverage for different types of birth control
    • More detailed answers to these questions and answers to other questions can be found in this ACOG Practice Bulletin 121, LARCs from July 2011 and reaffirmed in 2013