Long-acting reversible contraception

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Long-acting reversible contraception is also known as a LARC.

These methods are long-acting so you don’t have to remember about them every day or every time you have sex.

They are also reversible so your natural fertility returns after the device is removed or injections after the Depo Provera injection hormone stops having an effect on your body.

Types of LARCs

There are three types of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) available for women in New Zealand:

  1. An intrauterine device (IUD) that lasts five or more years - "fit and forget"
  2. An implant inserted under the skin that lasts up to five years - "fit and forget"
  3. The Depo Provera injection that is given every 12 weeks


LARCs are becoming more and more popular as they become more accessible and affordable. They are also very effective at preventing pregnancy – each method is 99 per cent effective.

Generally, LARCs are great if you find it hard to remember to take the Pill, or if you suffer side effects from it.

For Nicole (25), her copper IUD has meant great relief from worry about unplanned pregnancy:

"After I realised that I was unable to take the contraceptive pill, I knew that a non-hormonal IUD was an option and went to see Family Planning.

My nurse told me about all the old wives tales around young women not being able to have an IUD and cleared up all my fears. She made sure it was the right match for me.

I think it's important to still use condoms to protect against STIs, but not having any pregnancy fears and not having to remember to take a pill every day is a huge relief.

I still can't believe it's effective for five years when I don't even know it's there!"

Game Changers

LARCs have improved the effective options that are available to women who want to control their fertility.

Different contraceptive methods suit different individuals according to your

  • age
  • life stage
  • physicality
  • personality.


LARCs don’t protect against sexually transmissible infections (STIs) though – you need to use condoms and lube for this.

About each LARC

Here we outline the three types of LARCs. To find out more about any of these methods, follow the links below each one, or visit one of our clinics to talk to a nurse or doctor.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

An IUD is a small device that is fitted in the womb.

There are two types of IUDs:

  • Copper IUD - contains copper. This is subsidised so there is no cost for the device itself. You just pay the cost of your visit to your GP or Family Planning clinic.
  • Mirena - contains progestogen. This is funded for very heavy menstrual bleeding that has made you anaemic and medicines have not been successful. Otherwise, it costs $333 plus the cost of the clinic visit.

Contraceptive Implant

The contraceptive implant is one or two small rods that are inserted under the skin of your upper arm.

There are two types of contraceptive implants:

  • Jadelle – made up of two rods and lasts for five years. It’s subsidised so all you pay is the consultation charge and a small dressing and prescription fee ($22 at Family Planning). 
  • Implanon – made up of one rod and lasts for three years. This is not subsidised and costs about $270 plus clinic costs.

Read more about the contraceptive implant

Depo Provera

Depo Provera is an injection given every three months. It is over 99 per cent effective as long as each injection is received on time (every 12 weeks).

Depo Provera has been available in New Zealand since 1968 and it’s free. All you have to pay is the cost of your visit to your GP or Family Planning clinic.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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