Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are the intrauterine devices, injections and implants that are used by women for an extended period of time to prevent unexpected pregnancy. Most women in the western countries are favouring these implants in the place of condoms and birth control pills due to their long-term effects and reversible nature without any complexities. The cost-effective feature of these devices compared to the traditional contraceptive methods in the long run is another supporting argument for their growing demand. The lack of proper awareness has restricted the use of these devices to a small number of world population.
These LARCs are suggested for young girls to prevent teen pregnancy conditions. However, they can be used by women of any age irrespective of their previous pregnancy situations to have the birth control for a selected period of time. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) and single-rod implants are the two most preferred long-acting reversible contraceptives. Although these contraceptives are cheap, safe and effective, only a small portion of the world’s female population like 1.5% use the intrauterine devices and only 3.4% use the single-rod contraceptive implants.
The results of LARC methods are far more effective than the other contraceptive methods. It is proven that the risk of failure for methods like oral pills, vagina ring, and the birth control patch is 17 to 20 times higher than those that use the intrauterine devices and subdermal implants. For the adolescents below the age of 21, the risk is higher compared to the adults. Recent statistics in England show that the teen pregnancy rate has been declined with the increasing use of long-acting reversible contraceptives.
The distinctive advantage of these long-active reversible contraceptive methods is the minimal or no action from the user after its insertion. On the contrast, the alternative methods like oral contraceptive pills, vagina ring and birth control patch require daily, weekly or monthly action by the consumer. The Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate injection (DMPA) requires a visit to the provider every 12 weeks for an intramuscular shot and 4 weeks for the subcutaneous shot. It is the principal reason that caused around 40% of women to stop using DMPA injection in their first year itself.
Although the upfront cost of LARC methods is high compared to oral pills, vagina ring and birth control patch, it is the most cost-effective method in the long term. The switch from temporary pregnancy control methods to the long-acting reversible contraceptives will help women to avoid unintended pregnancy and save the additional costs of other contraceptive methods. However, this high cost is the primary concern among many women to opt for these LARC methods, and it is expected that reduction of the prices in the future will promote more to use the intrauterine devices and implants.
The main advantage of using the LARC methods is the reduction in the number of abortion cases. Recent studies on long-acting reversible contraceptives in the United States have proven to be very successful and reduced the unexpected pregnancy and abortions on a high level. Additionally, the number of unintended pregnancies in the women less than the age of 25 years have also declined with their usage. The increasing changes in the lifestyle coupled with the rising disposable income of the people around the world are increasing the demand for LARC methods.
There are few side effects of using these long-acting reversible contraceptives like mood swings, weight gain, headache, acne and others. However, the advantages of these methods outrun the disadvantages. On the whole, the demand for LARC methods will increase further in the coming years owing to the increasing awareness about their benefits in adults and adolescents, growing cases of abortion in developing and developed nations, advancements in the healthcare infrastructure, long-term cost savings of the intrauterine devices and implants, and the supportive initiatives by the regional governments to increase their use.