IUD's and Implants Deemed Best Birth Control

Long acting reversible contraceptives get a thumbs up for best birth control

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Did you know that Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) methods, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants are the most effective forms of reversible contraception available? The are also safe for use by almost all women!

That is the recommendation of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College). The new recommendations offer guidance to ob-gyns for advising patients about LARCs and managing clinical issues that could possibly arise with their use.

"Consider using IUD's or implants for safe, effective and reversible birth control."

Eve Espey, M.D., MPH, who helped develop the new Practice Bulletin reports that long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are the best methods we have to prevent unintended pregnancies, which currently account for 49 percent of US pregnancies each year.

One big advantage LARC has over other types of birth control, is that after insertion, LARCs work without having to do anything else. No maintenance required, no daily pill to take, no decision whether to use a condom or not, and no insertion of a diaphragm is necessary. 

Dr. Espey encourages women to understand that the modern IUDs are much improved from earlier versions, and now complications are quite rare. Dr. Espey doesn't view IUDs as an abortifacients (medications that terminate a pregnancy), as IUD's  work prior to pregnancy is achieved and are safe for the large majority of adolescents and women.

The upfront costs are higher, but LARCs are much more cost-effective when considering how long they will last. 

IUDs and contraceptive implants are inserted in a doctor's office. There are two types of IUDs, which are small, devices inserted into the uterus:  The copper IUD, which effectively prevents pregnancy for 10 years, releases a small amount of copper into the uterus, preventing fertilization and interfering with sperm motility through the uterus to the fallopian tubes.

The hormonal IUD releases progestin that thickens cervical mucus and thins out the uterine lining. The hormonal IUD is thought to possibly make the sperm less active as well.

Women continue to ovulate while using the copper IUD with the possibility of increased menstrual flow and cramping in the beginning. Women who aren't able to have the increased bleeding and cramping to moderate often choose to have their copper IUD removed.

Women usually experience lighter menstrual cycles when using the hormonal IUD. The hormonal IUD prevents pregnancy for five years.

The contraceptive implant is a small 2-inch rod inserted under the skin of the upper arm which releases an ovulation-suppressing hormone for up to three years.

This is the most effective method of reversible contraception with a pregnancy rate of 0.05%.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 22, 2011
Last Updated:
June 27, 2011