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3 Long-Lasting Birth Control Options That You Can Forget About For A While

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To simplify your birth control routine, consider a method that can work for months or even years without a hitch. While for years, the pill was the only option, now long-lasting birth control options are here to make your life a little easier. After a quick trip to the doctor, you won't have to give contraception much of a passing thought.

And plenty of long-lasting, but ultimately reversible, birth control methods are available. "Long-acting methods of contraception are those methods which can be fitted (inserted), and then — more or less — forgotten. These methods include the implant (Nexplanon), intrauterine devices (IUD’s - coils) and the injectable (Depo Provera)," Dr. Deborah Lee, Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare Specialist, tells Romper. And like the name suggests, these options can work for quite a while. "Depending on which option you choose, these contraceptive choices can be continued anywhere from 3 to 10 years," Tiffany Woodus, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., tells Romper. That gives you reproductive control for the near (and kind of distant) future.

Why would you consider a long-lasting birth control method over something like the pill or a condom? "The major advantages of these options are that they are essentially no maintenance, foolproof, and just as reliable as permanent sterilization at preventing pregnancy," says Dr. Woodus. There's almost no danger of user error with these methods, i.e. forgetting to take the dang pill for a day or two. If you have anxiety about becoming pregnant right now, then the extra peace of mind could be everything. Plus, you're freed from the hassle of thinking about birth control every day, so that's a sweet bonus.

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With that in mind, it's still crucial to discuss long-lasting birth control options with your doctor before making any decisions. Make sure you know about any potential side effects or other concerns, as well as whether that form of birth control is appropriate if you have any current health conditions. For those in the U.S., double check what your insurer will cover for birth control, so you aren't stuck with any surprise out-of-pocket costs. And lastly, remember that none of these methods will prevent against STIs, so you'll still need a condom or other barrier method to protect yourself against those. For the most part, however, these long-lasting birth control options can make your life a whole lot easier.

1. IUD

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First, consider the intrauterine device (IUD). "IUDs are great because they are easily reversible once they are removed," as OB/GYN Dr. Kameelah Phillips explains to Romper. Plus, they can be used for more than pregnancy prevention. "Hormonal IUDs can help with heavy periods, painful periods, and endometriosis," says Dr. Phillips. And for people who prefer a non-hormonal method of birth control, there's the option of using a copper IUD, as explained by Planned Parenthood.

If you're looking for birth control that lasts a few years (or even more), then the IUD is definitely worth checking out. In fact, different IUDs can last for as long as 3, 5, or even 12 years, as Dr. Phillips says. There are several different brands of IUD available for people, so be sure to discuss all the options thoroughly with your healthcare provider.

2. Implant

Birth control doesn't get much easier than the implant. "Nexplanon is also a long-acting reversible form of contraception. It is a 4 cm hormone-containing rod," says Dr. Woodus, which is "placed in the forearm between the biceps and triceps muscle during a simple procedure in your physician's office." And then you're good to go. Once it's set, the implant can stay in place for up to three years, Dr. Woodus further adds.

Plus, there aren't that many downsides with this method. Risks associated with the procedure, such as migration of the implant, are extremely rare, says Dr. Woodus. And with a greater than 99 % effectiveness, the Nexplanon implant is one of the most effective methods of birth control out there, according to Planned Parenthood. You can't accidentally forget to take it like the pill, because it just hangs out in your arm all the time.

3. Injection

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Although it isn't quite as long-lasting as the IUD or implant, the injection doesn't require daily action either. The only birth control shot available to people in the U.S., the Depo Provera injection is a hormonal form of birth control, as explained in Very Well Health. Given every three months, the Depo shot works by suppressing ovulation, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, even after stopping the injection, a person's fertility may take several months to return. Definitely discuss these points with your doctor if you plan to get pregnant within the next year or so.

With so many options available, it's easier than ever to find a birth control method that fits with your lifestyle. And if you're into keeping things low-maintenance and simple, then long-lasting birth control options may be the perfect choice.

Experts:

Dr. Deborah Lee, Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare Specialist with Dr. Fox Online Pharmacy and longtime healthcare writer

Dr. Kameelah Phillips, Founder of Calla Women’s Health

Tiffany Woodus, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., of Baylor Scott & White Health