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Long-acting reversible contraception

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) are the most effective methods of contraception available.


The implant and the copper IUD

These types of contraception last for many years and you don’t have to remember to use contraception every day or every time you have sex.


You are also able to get pregnant as soon as you have the contraception removed from your body.


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

  1. A copper intrauterine device (IUD) that works for 5 to 10 years
  2. A hormonal intra uterine device that works for 3 to 5 years
  3. An implant under the skin in your arm that works for 3 to 5 years


LARCs are becoming more and more popular as people discover the freedom they offer.

The IUD and implant are the most effective types of contraception out there – more than 99% effective. This means that only one woman using a LARC out of 100 will get pregnant each year.

LARCs are a great option if you find it hard to remember to take the pill, you forget to make your appointment for the Depo Provera injection, or if you have side effects from other contraceptive methods.

LARCs are sometimes called “fit and forget” methods – once you have it inserted, you don’t need to remember to do anything!

For Nicole (25), her copper IUD has meant great relief from worry about unintended 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!"


LARCs have increased the number of contraceptive options available and are also much more effective than other types of contraception.

If you would like a LARC, make an appointment at Family Planning to talk about your options. The nurse will help you choose something that is right for you, depending on your:

  • age
  • preference
  • stage in life
  • periods (how heavy/painful they are)


LARCs don’t protect against STIs, so you still need to use condoms and lube for this.


Copper IUD

An IUD is a small, T-shaped object that goes inside your uterus. This IUD contains copper and some people prefer this option as it doesn’t contain any hormones.

The copper IUD can also be used as emergency contraception instead of the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) if you have it inserted within five days of unprotected sex.

The copper IUD is subsidised so you don’t need to pay for the IUD. You will just need to pay for your appointments at Family Planning.

Hormonal IUD

Hormonal IUDs contains progestogen. This type of IUD can help if you have painful or very heavy periods. Often after a few months, you will either have no period or a light period.

There are two hormonal IUDs available in New Zealand: the Mirena and the Jaydess.

The Mirena is funded (free) for people with some medical conditions. For all other people, the Mirena costs $340 and the Jaydess $275, plus appointment costs.

Contraceptive Implant

The contraceptive implant is made up of two small rods the size of a matchstick. They are put under the skin in the inside of your arm and slowly release a hormone called progestogen.

The implant available in New Zealand is the Jadelle. Because it is subsidised, you only need to pay for your appointments.


To find out more about any of these methods, and what one might be right for you, visit one of our clinics to talk to a nurse or doctor.

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

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