Where Do You Stand on Using LARCs?
Originally Published: March 26, 2021
Revised: March 26, 2021
After learning about different forms of birth control in my middle school health class, I decided that when I was older and sexually active I would use a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC). It just made the most sense to me.
LARCs include intrauterine devices (IUDs), also known as intrauterine contraceptives (IUCs), and the implant, also known by its brand name Nexplanon.
LARCs include intrauterine devices (IUDs), also known as intrauterine contraceptives (IUCs), and the implant, also known by its brand name Nexplanon. LARCs can prevent pregnancy from between three and twelve years, depending on which kind you’re using. Once a LARC is removed, there is typically no effect on a person’s ability to get pregnant if they choose to. IUDs (which come in copper and hormonal forms) are small, T-shaped devices inserted by a health care professional into the uterus. The implant is a thin, flexible, plastic rod inserted by a health care provider under the skin of the upper arm. The hormonal IUD and the implant release hormones that thicken cervical mucus and can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. The copper in copper IUDs is toxic to sperm, which keeps sperm from reaching an egg. LARCs do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so condoms would also have to be used during sex to reduce a person’s risk of an STD.
LARCs are a safe, highly effective, long-lasting choice for preventing pregnancy. Why would someone not want to use them? Well, after talking to my friends, I realized that teens have a range of feelings about LARCs and what works for one person may not suit another.
Fears and Potential Side Effects
“I’ve heard IUDs can have intense side effects and cause a lot of pain,” says Cassidy, 19, of Washington, D.C. “I’ve been using the Pill for a year. I have never had any problems with it, so I prefer that.” While it’s true that you could experience side effects any time you’re using a new form of birth control, they are often mild and temporary.
For some, it’s not about the side effects. Just the thought of having something inserted into the body is enough for some people not to choose a LARC. “I thought about getting either an IUD or the implant, but the idea of having a foreign object inside my body for years scared me too much,” says Brigid, 19, of Boston.
A health care provider can answer questions about side effects, provide information about the insertion procedure and help people decide if a LARC is right for them.
Managing Chronic Conditions
While LARCs are not for everyone, some people use contraceptives to help with chronic conditions. “After trying every pill form of birth control as well as the patch, my doctor prescribed my IUD,” says Becca, 17, of Fairfax, VA, who has been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. “According to my doctor, you can get it taken out at any time and it’s relatively painless to do so. While the side effects for me have not been great, it’s pretty much the best treatment for PCOS and endometriosis.” While Becca’s experience with an IUD has not been perfect, she acknowledges that it can be a good option for some people.
Effortless but Effective
Some teens love LARCs! “I’m an avid supporter of LARCs,” says Isabelle, 19, of Bethlehem, PA. “Picking the right form of birth control is about your individual wants and needs with regards to reproductive health. I believe LARCs provide people with an effortless but effective form of birth control.”
Julia, 19, of Gambier, OH, shares just how effortless LARCs are. “By not having to worry about picking up and paying for new prescriptions every month, it gives people the chance to go about their lives unworried by contraception,” she explains. “It also means that there is no forgetting to take the Pill at the right time or putting on a new patch. It is constant protection.” Because users don’t have to remember to take a pill, get a shot, replace a patch or insert a device into their vagina, LARCs remove user error and are among the most reliable and effective forms of birth control.
For some, LARCs are the best contraceptive choice, and for others, they’re just not the right fit. Where do you stand?
For help finding a health care provider, go to the clinic finder on Sexetc.org by clicking on “Action Center” and then “Clinic Finder.”
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