Which Long-Acting Contraception Method Is Right For You?

If you're not planning on trying to get pregnant anytime soon, but you also don't want to permanently rule out the possibility, choosing a long-term contraception method might be your best option. Unlike birth control pills, patches and shots, long-term contraception methods don't require you to continually remember to take a pill or go back to your gynecologist's office for regular appointments. They're more of a "one and done" type of deal, and they're over 99 percent effective.  In fact, they're about as effective as permanent sterilization. There are two main methods of long-term birth control: the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant.


IUDs are small devices that a gynecologist places inside your uterus. Once you have an IUD placed, it'll stay there until you choose to have it removed. You won't be able to feel it inside you, and it won't interfere with sexual intercourse. You can have an IUD removed if you decide you want to try to get pregnant. There are two types of IUDs: the hormonal IUD and the copper IUD.

  • Hormonal IUD: Hormonal IUDs release progestin, the same hormone found in many birth control pills. This type of IUD will last three to five years, depending on the specific brand. You may have some breakthrough bleeding between periods for a few months after you get a hormonal IUD. 
  • Copper IUD: The copper IUD is the longest-lasting reversible birth control method. This type of IUD will help prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years before you'll need to replace it. It does not contain any hormones, making it a good choice if you're sensitive to other hormonal birth control methods. You can also have the copper IUD placed as a form of emergency contraception up to five days after intercourse. The copper IUD reduces the risk of getting pregnant by more than 99 percent when used as emergency contraception, making it more effective than the emergency contraception pill, according to Princeton University.

Birth Control Implants

Birth control implants are small rods inserted in your upper arm. It's not a surgical procedure, so you won't need to go under general anesthesia. Your gynecologist won't need to cut your arm open either -- the implants come with an insertion tool. Like hormonal IUDs, they contain progestin to help prevent pregnancy. Also like IUDs, you can choose to have your implants removed at any time if you want to try to become pregnant. Implants last three years before they need to be replaced. The progestin in the implants can cause breakthrough bleeding, and you may eventually stop having a period altogether when you have the implant.

For more information, contact a gynocologist like those at Triad OB-GYN PC.