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Family Planning 101: Long-Term Methods

Family Planning 101

We know that choosing the right family planning method can be overwhelming. Not only are there lots of methods to choose from, but they all accomplish the same thing — reducing risk of pregnancy — in very different ways! Nivi is here to help you learn about the various methods available to you, and select one that fits you, your partner, and your lifestyle. That’s why we’ve created a series of blog posts about the different kinds of contraceptive methods and when they’re used: immediate, short-term, long term, permanent, and natural.

So, are you ready to see what methods are out there? Keep scrolling!

Long-Term Methods

Hate having to remember to take a pill every day? Think removing and replacing a birth control patch or ring is annoying or uncomfortable? Would you prefer to go to a healthcare facility once, and be done with it? Then a long-term method may be the right one for you! Long-term contraceptive methods, also known as Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs), are characterized by two things: their ability to prevent pregnancy for a long time — a year or more — and their ability to be reversed (in other words, they’re not permanent). They’re also super private (no one will know you’re using one). Depending on the method, they can work for up to 3 to 12 years; and because they’re inserted by a healthcare provider, they can’t be forgotten or used incorrectly — making them 20 times more effective than short-term methods like birth control pills or patches!

Hormonal IUD

A small, plastic device shaped like the letter “T.” It is inserted into a woman’s uterus, where it prevents pregnancy by releasing a small amount of hormone over time that, depending on the type, either stops the release of a woman’s eggs (ovulation), or thickens the entrance to the uterus (cervix) so that sperm can’t pass. It has two tiny strings attached that hang through the cervix into the vagina, to confirm placement and make for easy removal at any time. It’s one of the most effective contraceptive methods that exists because it doesn’t need to be maintained or replaced for years at a time.


  • Will prevent pregnancy for up to 3, 5, or 7 years (depending on the type)

  • The process of inserting an IUD into the uterus only takes a few minutes

  • Can be used while breastfeeding

  • Many women report that they get fewer — or no — periods

  • Women and couples that want to get pregnant can do so very quickly after removing a hormonal IUD


  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

  • Some women find the insertion process painful the pain differs from woman to woman

  • Some women may experience pain or cramping in the hours or days following insertion

  • The process of a healthcare provider inserting the IUD can be painful, and there might be cramping in the following hours or days

  • Very very rarely, an IUD can shift out of place

Non-Hormonal IUD

(AKA Copper T, Copper IUD, Coil, Paragard)

Similar to the Hormonal IUD in shape and size, but made of copper instead of plastic. Copper damages men’s sperm; so a copper IUD prevents pregnancy by preventing sperm that enters the uterus from traveling upward toward a woman’s eggs.


  • Will prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years (5 years longer than the longest-lasting hormonal IUD!)

  • The insertion process only takes a few minutes

  • Can be used while breastfeeding

  • Also works as emergency contraception — it’s 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy if inserted within 5 days after unprotected sex

  • Women and couples that want to get pregnant can do so soon after removing a non-hormonal IUD


  • It does not protect against STIs

  • Like the hormonal IUD, some women find the insertion process painful

  • Some women may experience side effects like bleeding between periods, heavier bleeding during periods, and cramping


(AKA Nexplanon)

A flexible plastic rod (about the length of your thumb) that is inserted into the skin of the upper arm, near the armpit. It prevents pregnancy by releasing a small, steady dose of the hormone progestin, which thickens the walls of the uterus and prevents ovulation. It’s reversible; so it can be removed any time by a healthcare provider.


  • It’s more than 99% effective

  • It prevents pregnancy for up to 3 or 5 years

  • It can be used while breastfeeding

  • It may make periods lighter or lessen cramping during periods


  • It does not protect against STIs

  • If inserted at some point after the first 5 days of a woman’s period, another method (like condoms) needs to be used for the first week

  • Some women may experience side effects like bleeding between periods, heavier bleeding between periods, weight gain, mood swings, or headaches

  • It may not be as effective in women that are very overweight or obese

  • Women that have had breast cancer shouldn’t use it


Want to learn which method is right for you, and where to get it? Have other questions about sex, STIs, and contraception? Remember you can chat with Nivi on WhatsApp any time. It’s private, confidential, and free!


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