Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives: Intrauterine Devices and the Contraceptive Implant

Espey, Eve MD, MPH; Ogburn, Tony MD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31820ce2f0
Clinical Expert Series
Expert Discussion
Spanish Translation

The provision of effective contraception is fundamental to the practice of women's health care. The most effective methods of reversible contraception are the so-called long-acting reversible contraceptives, intrauterine devices and implants. These methods have multiple advantages over other reversible methods. Most importantly, once in place, they do not require maintenance and their duration of action is long, ranging from 3 to 10 years. Despite the advantages of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, they are infrequently used in the United States. Short-acting methods, specifically oral contraceptives and condoms, are by far the most commonly used reversible methods. A shift from the use of short-acting methods to long-acting reversible contraceptive methods could help reduce the high rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States. In this review of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, we discuss the intrauterine devices and the contraceptive implant available in the United States, and we describe candidates for each method, noncontraceptive benefits, and management of complications.

There are many benefits of long-acting reversible contraceptives-intrauterine devices and the implant-and they are appropriate for most women seeking effective long-term contraception.

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Continuing medical education for this article is available at

Corresponding author: Eve Espey, MD, MPH, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2011 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.