When you consider what contraception method to use, you might want to look beyond the pill. The four most effective methods of contraception are ‘use and forget’ that aim to fit in with your lifestyle and needs. They are often referred to as Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) because they can be effective for many years and are completely reversible.
The Contraceptive Implant
This is a small flexible rod that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm and will prevent pregnancy for up to three years. It is the most effective method of contraception available (over 99% effective). It releases a low dose of the hormone progestogen which stops ovulation and makes the womb lining temporarily thinner.
Although this method is more effective than sterilisation, it may make your periods longer, more irregular or it could stop them all together.
The Contraceptive Injection
The most common injection is called Depo-Provera and lasts for 12 weeks. It is over 99% effective and releases progestogen. The injection usually stops your periods or makes them irregular and it may take several months for menstruation to return to normal after you stop the injection.
The Intrauterine device (IUD or ‘the coil’)
This small plastic device is inserted into the uterus and can last up to 10 years (but can be removed at any time). It works by stopping the egg and sperm meeting but can make periods longer, heavier or more painful. It is a good choice for those that prefer not to use hormones. The insertion usually takes 10-15 minutes and the coil is 99% effective.
The Intrauterine System (IUS)
This plastic device is inserted into the uterus and releases progestogen. It works for three or five years and this depends on the device used. It is 99% effective and works by thinning the uterus lining, thickening the mucus produced by the cervix, and sometimes stops ovulation. It makes periods shorter and lighter and often can stop periods altogether, but this process takes up to six months during which time bleeding can be irregular. It is particularly beneficial to those women who have heavy periods or those wishing to start hormone replacement therapy. The procedure for inserting the device into the uterus can be uncomfortable but only lasts 10 – 15 minutes.
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