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LARC, or long-acting reversible contraceptives, are methods of birth control that provide effective contraception for an extended period without requiring user action. Some methods include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and sub-dermal (under the skin) arm implants. LARCs are the most effective reversible methods of contraception because they do not depend on patient compliance.  Their 'typical use' failure rates are about the same as 'perfect use' failure rates.  Usually less than 1% of women become pregnant.

LARCs can be used to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, and are recommended for adolescents and women of any age no matter how many times they have given birth. Women considering using LARCs should obtain contraceptive counseling from reproductive health professionals because those who do are more satisfied with them and use them for longer periods of time.

  • Small plastic rod inserted under your skin

  • Releases hormones prevent pregnancy

  • Last up to 3 years

  • 99% effective

  • Small, hormone-free device with copper coating

  • Copper creates a natural sperm repellent

  • Lasts up to 10 years

  • 99% effective

Non-Hormonal IUD
  • Soft, small, flexible piece of plastic

  • Releases small portions of hormones to prevent pregnancy

  • Lasts 3-5 years

  • 99% effective

Hormonal IUD

LARC is different than other methods of birth control

We provide access to 100% free LARC which is the most effective, but also often the most expensive, method of birth control available. Other forms of short term birth control (such as the pill, patch, depo-shot, condoms, withdrawal and fertility awareness) are not as effective or worry free. Short term birth control methods often are single-use or require daily, weekly, or monthly requirements to increase effectiveness. Even with perfect use, short term methods are typically only 80-96% effective.  If you are looking for alternatives to the birth control pill or other short-term methods, LARC is over 99% effective, placed by a healthcare provider such as an OBGYN or nurse practitioner, is reversible, and does not require any additional refills or replacements until it expires in 3-10 years.


See a complete list of birth control options here.

We always educate and emphasize that abstinence is the only 100% effective method of birth control. Additionally, only condoms can prevent against the transmission of HIV and other STIs (sometimes referred to as STDs).






  • What is an IUD?
    An IUD is a small, t-shaped piece of plastic that keeps you from getting pregnant.
  • Where does it go?
    A doctor or nurse puts the IUD in the uterus, which is inside a body above the vagina. IUD stands for “Intrauterine Device,” which means it is inside the uterus.
  • How long does it last?
    The ParaGard lasts for 10 years. The Mirena and Kyleena last for 5 years. The Skyla lasts for 3 years. These can be taken out by a doctor or nurse at any time.
  • How do I use it?
    Once a doctor or nurse puts in the IUD, you don't have to do anything! You are protected from pregnancy until you choose to have it removed, or up to 5 years with the Mirena or Kyleena and 10 years with the Paragard.
  • How well does it work?
    The IUD works really, really well. It is one of the best forms of birth control that exists. If 100 women use the IUD, on average less than 1 will become pregnant within a year.
  • How does an IUD work?
    Both IUDs work by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. This happens because the IUDs make it difficult for sperm to move. Sometimes, the hormones in the Mirena may also prevent ovulation (when the egg leaves the ovaries).
  • What types of IUDs does A Step Ahead Foundation provide?
    Our health centers have two types of IUDs available: The Liletta (which lasts for 6 years), Skyla (3 years), Mirena or Kyleena (5 years), and the Paragard (10 years). The Paragard has no hormones. The Liletta, Skyla, Mirena, Kyleena have hormones, which can make periods lighter for some people.
  • Does an IUD protect me from STIs?
    Nope, absolutely not. So definitely use a condom every time you have sex so that you are protected from pregnancy AND sexually transmitted infections.
  • How do I qualify?
    It's simple: to qualify for free all you have to do is be a resident of one of these 29 counties: Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, DeKalb, Dickson, Giles, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Moore, Perry, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Wayne, Williamson, and Wilson. Girls under the age of 13 must receive parental consent. That's all!
  • What if I do not identify as a woman?
    We serve any person capable of getting pregnant and if you do not identify as a woman, we are happy for you to access our services. A Step Ahead stands with the LGBTQIA+ community. Our services are open to all individuals who are in need of education and access to birth control.
  • How do I learn more?
    You can always set up an appointment with one of our doctors or nurses to talk about the IUD or implant, or you head over to our contact page to email a question.
  • What if I don't have insurance?
    We pay the full cost for any of our clients who want to receive a free IUD or implant.
  • What if I have insurance?
    Our partner health clinics will bill your private insurance first, and we will pay any co-pay and/or deductibles for Middle Tennessee residents. There will be no out of pocket costs to our patients.
  • What does the appointment include?
    An appointment includes a well-woman's health screening, pregnancy test, STI test, and free birth control. If you are over 21, you will also receive a free Pap test.
  • How do I get to my appointment?
    No worries! We provide free transportation to and from appointments. We will set this up through our call center when you make an appointment.
  • Will you pay for my pill/patch/ring prescription?
    Sorry, we only pay for IUDs and implants. These methods are more effective and hassle-free, but not always best for an individual. We recommend talking to your doctor or nurse about what forms of contraception are best for you!
  • I don't live in Middle Tennessee- how can I get A Step Ahead in my city?
    Check our listing of affiliate locations on the "Contact Us" page, or email for information on starting an ASAF affiliate in your area.
What FAQ
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