Review Articles

Long-acting reversible hormonal contraception

N. E. Dahan-Farkas, M. O.E. Irhuma
South African Family Practice | Vol 58, No 5 : September/October| a4573 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v58i5.4573 | © 2016 M.O.E. Irhuma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 2016 | Published: 02 November 2016

About the author(s)

N. E. Dahan-Farkas, Division of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
M. O.E. Irhuma, Division of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, School of Therapeutic Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Abstract

Long-acting reversible hormonal contraceptives are effective methods of birth control that provide contraception for an extended period without requiring user action. Long-acting reversible hormonal contraceptives include progesterone only injectables, subdermal implants and the levonorgestrel intrauterine system. These methods have several advantages over other reversible contraceptive methods. More importantly, once in place, they require minimal maintenance and their duration of action ranges from 8 weeks to 5 years. Despite the advantages of long-acting reversible hormonal contraceptive methods, they are infrequently used in South Africa. 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 rates of unintended pregnancies in South Africa. In this review of long-acting reversible hormonal contraceptive methods, we discuss the long-acting progesterone injectables, the etonogestrel implant and the levonorgestrel intrauterine system available in South Africa, the side effects of each of these preparations and the non-contraceptive benefits. It is imperative that health professionals and educators inform women of reproductive age about the benefits, risks, and common side effects of long-acting reversible hormonal contraception to improve consideration and recognition of these methods.


Keywords

long-acting reversible hormonal contraception; progesterone only injectables; subdermal implants; levonorgestrel Intrauterine contraception

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