When it comes to finding a contraceptive solution, long acting reversible contraception, also known as LARCs, have not been high on the hit list for women of Australia. In fact, medical literature praises LARCs as the most effective form of contraception, yet interestingly enough only 11% of women use an IUD or implant, while one third use oral contraception.

So with all the data pointing towards LARCs as the best contraceptive solution, why are Australian women choosing not to use them?

Research into the topic attributes high costs, a lack of acceptance and general misperceptions of LARCs as the reason why Australian women choose oral contraception over their counterparts. So let’s take a closer look at what they are and the pros and cons of using them.

What are LARCs?

As the acronym suggests, a LARC is a long acting reversible contraception that aims to stop a woman falling pregnant for a number of years or months depending on the type used. There are three main types of LARCs:

Contraceptive Implant: A contraceptive implant is a small, thin flexible plastic rod that is placed under the skin of the upper inside of your arm. It releases progestogen slowly over a three-year term and is 99% effective.

The effectiveness and advantages of using an implant are high; it is reversible, cannot be affected by vomiting or diarrhoea (unlike the oral pill), does not interfere with sex and can be used while breastfeeding. The possibility of weight gain as a side effect is very low (under 7%).

The side effects of a contraceptive implant are minimal and often subside after 3-6 months. Around 14% have experienced acne and some side effects include mood changes, hair loss and changes in libido.

Intrauterine Device IUD: An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that is fitted into the woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years. A copper IUD has copper wire around the base of it whereas the progesterone IUD releases progesterone to prevent pregnancy. It’s inserted by a qualified medical practitioner through the vagina and into the uterus. The IUD lasts for five to ten years but can be removed at any stage.

There are minimal disadvantages and side effects associated with using an IUD for contraception. Just like using the pill, some side effects include acne, nausea, flushing and some irregular bleeding. There is also a low chance that the IUD may expel itself during a period or the very rare chance of ectopic pregnancy.

A DMPA injection: the DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate) is a long-acting hormone that is given via injection every 12 weeks to prevent pregnancy.
When the injection is given, hormone levels are low and stable throughout the menstrual cycle, so the lining of your uterus doesn’t thicken as it normally would.

With this injection, some woman experience less bleeding as a result, but it does last for 12 weeks and unlike an IUD it cannot be removed, you simply have to wait for it to wear off. The DMPA injection shares similar side effects to other contraception, such as changes in bleeding and changes in mood.

To date, medical literature and research indicates that LARCs are a very safe and effective means of contraception, and despite the slow uptake in Australia, there are efforts to break down the misconceptions that surround LARCs and the side affects related to them.

Gynaecology Centres Australia provides safe, legal and non-judgemental pregnancy termination and effective contraception solutions to woman all around the country. Contact us for qualified advice about woman’s health, contraception and termination solutions.