Long Acting Reversible Contraception

Wouldn’t it be amazing if women could have nearly 100% protection from unintended pregnancy without having to remember to do anything?

Well, they can.   Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) options have been around for awhile now.  For women who are not interested in becoming pregnant in the next year or more, they are a wonderful choice for contraception.

There is one device that can be implanted in the arm and four options that are place in the uterus.   Once placed by a physician, a woman doesn’t need to do anything until she wants it removed.  They all last from 3-10 years.  Once removed, normal fertility returns within 2 weeks.  

On top of all these wonderful things, LARC options have less hormones and lower doses of them than traditional birth control pills.



An arm implant, the Nexplanon releases a slow amount of progesterone into the blood stream.  This method lasts for 3 years and is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.  No one can see the implant but with a gentle touch to the area a woman can be reassured it’s there and working.

What’s good about the Nexplanon:   Women have lighter, less painful periods.  No pelvic exam is needed for the placement.  Has about 1/10th the dose of hormones compared to birth control pills. 

Most common complaints women have with the Nexplanon:  irregular spotting or bleeding and headaches.



An intrauterine device (IUD), the Paragard is placed in the office by a physician.   Made of copper, it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and is good for 10 years.

What’s good about the Paragard:  Completely hormone free and lasts for 10 years!

Most common complaints women have the Paragard: slightly heavier periods that are a little more crampy.


Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena and Skyla

This Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena and Skyla are also placed in the uterus in the office.   With a small amount of hormone these methods last between 3-5 years and are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What’s good about these IUDs:  they result in lighter, less painful periods.   Depending on which IUD you get, there’s a 10-50% chance that a woman’s periods become so light they disappear altogether.  This is safe and a popular side effect of the progesterone-based IUDs.  These IUDs have 5-10% of the dose of hormones when compared to birth control pills.

Most common complaints women have with these IUDs:  The primary side effect of these IUDs is irregular spotting which usually lasts only 2-3 months but can persist for up to 6 months.  Some women also feel their discharge changes in a way they are not comfortable with (odor or amount).


STI Protection:

Since all LARC options work solely to prevent pregnancy and have no barrier effect, they do not protect from contracting sexually transmitted infections (STI).  It’s important for women to also use condoms if they are concerned about acquiring an STI.


If you’re interested in any of the LARC options, come in for a consultation to see what’s best for you.




El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano is also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.


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