The arrival of the pill in 1961 was pivotal in enabling women to control their fertility with a method unrelated to sex. Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods add another dimension to contraceptive choice, freeing women from having to remember a pill every day.
LARC methods include the contraceptive implant and hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), available in Australia since the early 2000s, and copper IUDs which have been around since the 1970s.
Global and local institutions from the World Health Organisation to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and family planning organisations advocate for increased access to LARCs. But there is still a lack of awareness and negative perceptions about these methods.
What are the options?
Unlike condoms, which need to be used every time with sex, or the pill, which must be taken every day, LARC doesn’t require any action after placement in the body and is immediately reversible.
Two-rod implants are available in other countries, including New Zealand. These last for up to five years.The contraceptive implant available in Australia, known under the brand name Implanon, is a 4cm flexible rod, placed under the skin of the upper inner arm. It slowly releases a progestogen hormone called etonogestrel over a three-year period.
Implants work by preventing the release of an egg each month from the ovary. They also thicken the mucus at the cervix to prevent sperm reaching the uterus.