ACOBG logoIUDs today are known to be much enhanced than the earlier versions, with complications also being a rarity. According to a Practice Bulletin out by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods appear to be the most efficient types of reversible contraception that are available. Including IUDs and implants, these approaches are believed to be safe for use by nearly all women at reproductive age.

According to the investigators, these new recommendations should allow ob-gyns to make the right choice of candidates for LARCs. It would apparently also help them take care of the clinical issues that possibly comes with their use. The findings suggested that a large number of women having an unplanned pregnancy had been using contraception. In such a scenario, a large number of unintended pregnancies is probably a result of inconsistent and incorrect employment of contraception.

“LARC methods are the best tool we have to fight against unintended pregnancies, which currently account for 49% of US pregnancies each year,” said Eve Espey, MD, MPH, who helped develop the new Practice Bulletin. “The major advantage is that after insertion, LARCs work without having to do anything else. There’s no maintenance required.”

Among all reversible contraceptives, LARCs seem to have the highest continuation rates, an important factor in contraceptive success. IUDs and contraceptive implants must be inserted by a doctor only. Copper IUDs are said to be effective in averting pregnancy for up to 10 years as they give out minimal amounts of copper in the uterus to help prevent fertilization. What’s more, copper also seems to interfere with the ability of the sperm to travel through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. Inserting the device within five days of unprotected sex can also help it function as an emergency contraception.

While the painful symptoms associated with the use of copper IUDs, at least data suggests could reduce as time passes, many women face heavy menstrual bleeding and pain. And this, the scientists say is one of the main reasons why the method isn’t a highly preferred one in the long run. As for the hormonal IUD, it releases progestin into the uterus, thickening cervical mucus and thinning the uterine lining. It could also play a role in making the sperm less active. There’s a possibility of lighter menstrual cycles with hormonal IDU and it is also known to be used as a treatment for heavy bleeding. It’s functional for a maximum of five years.

A rod the size of a matchstick is how a contraceptive implant can be described. It is inserted right below the skin of the upper arm and enables the release of an ovulation-suppressing hormone in a controlled way for a maximum of three years. This method is revealed to the most effective one among reversible contraception available and shows a pregnancy rate of 0.05 %.

LARC methods do cough up a host of benefits, yet investigators say that a large number of women in the U.S. employ other birth control options. The numbers read at less than 6 % for women in the U.S who had used IUDs from 2006 to 2008. The College cites less knowledge regarding LARCs and the associated costs as the main reason why women may not opt for them. Similarly, a December 2009 Committee Opinion released by The College suggested LARCs to be the first-line of contraceptive methods while more women should also be encouraged for it.

The findings are published in the July 2011 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.