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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 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 the implant, injection, IUD and IUS.

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

Top myths about LARC

1. All types of contraception require you take everyday

False. There are many methods of contraception  available that once given can work for a number of weeks or even years! These methods are often referred to as long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).

Depending upon the type of method used, this will determine how often it will need to be renewed. For example, contraceptive injections are administered every 12-13 weeks. Implants last up to 3 years and depending on the type the IUD and IUS can remain in place between 3 – 10 years. 

2. You need parental permission to receive LARC methods 

False, healthcare professionals are legally allowed to provide contraceptive advice and treatment to sexually active young people under the age of 16 without parental consent. Find out more about your rights when visiting a sexual health clinic.

3.That contraception is just limited to the pill and condoms

False, there are many different contraception methods available but LARC methods are known to be more effective than the pill and condoms as they do not need to be taken daily. These include the implant, injection, IUD & IUS.

However, LARC methods do not protect again STIs so use condoms as well!

4. Fertility does not go back to normal after the removal of LARC methods

False. 43% of women do not know that the IUS, IUD and implant can be removed at any time by a trained healthcare professional. These methods are suitable for most women of reproductive age and fertility will return quickly once removed.

However, after the injection the return of your fertility may be delayed (for some this may be as long as a year). However, it is important to remember if you stop using a method of contraception and you do not want to get pregnant then you must start to use a different method straight away.

5. Protects against STI

Although LARC methods are effective against pregnancy, they do not provide protection from STIs. You should still use condoms or internal (female) condoms.

6. If the implant is left in too long it causes infertility

False. The implant should be removed when the device has expired. We cannot guarantee the effectiveness of the implant past the expiry date so it is important to either have the implant replaced or start an alternative method of contraception. The implant cannot cause infertility.

7. You cannot use the IUS/IUD if you have not had children

False, you can have the IUD or IUS fitted even if you have not had children. 

8. ​You can still be fitted with an IUD/IUS if you are pregnant

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.

9. The insertion of implants requires surgery and insertion is painful and can cause infection

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. 

10. LARC methods interfere with sex

LARC methods do not interfere with sex.