Women Veterans Health Care
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives
For women Veterans who are not ready to begin a family, there are plenty of birth control options. However, not all birth control methods are made equal. Among the most recommended birth control methods are long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).
LARC methods include the intrauterine device (IUD), the hormone injection, and the implant. These methods last for an extended period, up to several years. If pregnancy is desired, the LARC methods may be stopped at any time. When it comes to preventing pregnancy, LARCs are over 99 percent effective.
What types of LARCs are there?
- T-shaped device containing either copper or progestin that is put into the uterus (womb) by a healthcare provider.
- Stops sperm from reaching the egg, from fertilizing the egg, and may prevent the egg from attaching in the uterus.
- Can be used for 3-10 years, depending on the device.
- Over 99 percent effective.
Implantable Rod (The Implant)
- A thin, matchstick-sized rod that contains the progestin hormone. It is put under the skin on the inside of your upper arm.
- Stops the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from reaching the egg.
- The implant can last for up to three years.
- Over 99 percent effective.
Injection (The Shot)
- An injection of the hormone once every three months.
- The injection is often given by a health care professional, but at some clinics there is training to teach you or a friend to give the injection at home.
- Prevents ovulation and works by making cervical mucus thicker and the uterine lining thinner. When the mucus on the cervix is thicker, the sperm can't reach the egg. Thin uterine lining causes menstrual cycles to be very light or even absent, which is a side-benefit many women like.
- 94 percent effective.
Are LARCs a good choice for you?
There is no "best" method of birth control for every woman. The birth control method that is right for you and your partner depends on many things, and may change over time. LARCs have many benefits:
- Get it and forget it. Once it is in place, you do not have to do anything else to prevent pregnancy.
- Very effective. LARCs are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Over the long term, LARCs are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch, or the ring.
- No hassle. There are no prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy
- Nearly invisible. It does not interfere with sex or daily activities.
- Total privacy. No one can tell when you are using birth control.
- 100% Reversible. If you want to get pregnant, simply remove the LARC.
Things to consider when choosing a birth control method.
When choosing a birth control method, it is important to discuss with your provider when and if you want to have children in the future. You should also talk about safe methods considering your current health, how effective each method is at preventing pregnancy, and whether a method makes sense for your lifestyle.
Talk to your VA provider about contraception care.
- VA offers contraception care. Speak to your provider about which methods are best suited for you.
- VA medical centers have a Women Veterans Program Manager to help women Veterans access VA benefits and health care services. To find the VA medical center or Vet Center nearest you, call 1-877-222-8387 or visit www.va.gov/directory.
- Women Veterans can call 1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636) to ask questions about available VA services and resources.Learn more about birth control methods here.
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