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FAQ

Longer lasting contraception is also sometimes called ‘longer-acting reversible contraception' (LARC).

Contraception is an individual choice and your choice may change from time to time, as your lifestyle does.

Methods that last for a long time and that you don’t have to think about every day could be best for you. Here are some of your FAQs:

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Does it work quickly? Can I stop using it quickly?

Longer lasting contraception starts working very quickly but most methods stop working within days after it is removed/stopped. It won’t affect your future fertility.

Is it safe?

It is very safe and most women can use it up until the menopause. Occasionally there are some side effects, including changes to your periods.

You can discuss any specific side effects or other concerns with your GP or local Sexual Health Practitioner.

What about sexually transmitted infections?

If you use longer lasting contraception, it is still important to practise safer sex.

Longer lasting contraception doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Only condoms protect you against STIs.

Use a condom until you and your partner have been tested for STIs and are assured that neither of you has an STI. This is important as many people may have an STI and don’t have signs to indicate that they have an infection.

Is longer-lasting contraception right for me?

It’s up to you to decide what contraceptive is best for you. Most people can use longer lasting contraception, but you should speak to your GP or sexual health clinic about what is best for you, taking into account:

  • your sex life
  • your work
  • your health
  • your family
  • your age

What are the reasons people choose longer-lasting contraception?

It may be hard to remember to take 'the pill', especially if you have a busy life, travel a lot or work irregular hours, or you might just not want to have to think about it every day.

You might want contraception that also helps heavy or painful periods.

There are lots of reasons to choose longer-lasting contraception. You may not want to have children at the moment, perhaps never, or you may feel your family is complete or that you want to have a gap between children.

Can you see or feel longer-lasting contraception?

The IUD and IUS are very discreet.

You can feel to check it is in place, but you and your partner won’t notice it during sex.

Very occasionally you might see the implant just under the skin in your arm and you will be able to feel it with your hand if you want to.

What if I have troublesome bleeding?

Go back to your GP or sexual health clinic to check whether you have any other problems causing this bleeding. Irregular bleeding as a result of longer lasting contraception will usually settle in time, however if it doesn’t then your GP or sexual health clinic can discuss alternative contraception methods with you.

Can longer-lasting contraception stop being effective?

Some medication may affect the implant, but most medications do not affect longer lasting contraception. If you are taking any medication you should discuss this with your doctor or nurse who will be able to advise you.

How quickly longer-lasting contraception becomes fully effective depends on the stage you’re at in your monthly cycle when it is fitted – this is usually right away, but your doctor or nurse will explain this to you when it is fitted. Your doctor or nurse can also advise you if you need to use condoms at this time until the longer-lasting contraception is fully effective.

Rarely longer-lasting contraception can come out by itself and if this happens you will need your doctor or nurse to put it back in. You will not be protected against pregnancy until it has been refitted.

Is longer-lasting contraception safe while breastfeeding?

Yes. You can be fitted with longer lasting contraception a month after giving birth.

It is safe to use if you are breastfeeding and won’t affect your milk supply.

What if I become pregnant?

Longer lasting contraception is very effective, however, there is a slight chance you could become pregnant. No contraception is 100% guaranteed. If you become pregnant with an IUD or IUS in place, there is a small chance that the pregnancy may develop in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy).

If you think you may be pregnant, whatever method you are using, you should see your GP as soon as possible.

What will happen when I see the doctor or nurse about contraceptives?

Your GP or the sexual health clinic doctor will explain what types of longer lasting contraception may be suitable for you taking into account your medical history and types of contraception you have used before.

They will help you choose the best method for you, explain its use, and, if appropriate, arrange for fitting at a suitable time.

They will also ask some questions to check you are not already pregnant or at risk of having a sexually transmitted infection. This is normal – be as honest as possible, and remember, anything you say will be strictly confidential.

Where can I get longer-lasting contraception?

Longer lasting contraception has to be fitted by someone who is specially trained. A doctor or nurse at your GP practice might be able to do it. Many GPs are trained, but if they are not they will be able to refer you for an appointment with someone who is.

Alternatively your sexual health clinic will be able to fit you with longer lasting contraception. They may be able to fit this the same day or you may have a consultation appointment and then a second appointment to fit your contraception.

For more information call  0800 22 44 88 or use our sexual health service finder to look for help in your area.