Some Hormonal Birth Control Might Be Even More Effective Than You Thought

Certain kinds offer extra protection.

The beauty of using a birth control implant or a hormonal IUD is that once you get it, you can mostly forget about it—and bank on its protection—for up to three or five years, respectively, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But at the end of that protective period, it's up to you to get your device removed or replaced, which can be annoying, painful, and relatively expensive. (Without insurance, implants can cost up to $800 for insertion and up to $300 for removal, while IUDs can cost up to $1000 for insertion and removal, according to Planned Parenthood.)

So this should come as welcome news: New research published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology suggests that, if you put off device removal, your implant or hormonal IUD could effectively continue to protect you from pregnancy for up to a year longer than the FDA approves it for use: In the study, researchers regularly monitored 500 very brave women who agreed to rely on expired methods of birth control: 237 used an implant, and 263 used a hormonal IUD as their birth control device. A year after their devices were supposed to stop working and be replaced, not a single implanted woman ended up with a baby, and only one IUD user got pregnant. (While this could seem apocalyptic if it happened to you, a 1-in-500 failure rate is similar to the failure rate of using an IUD as directed: it's less than 1 percent.)

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While there don't appear to be any glaring safety issues with keeping an implant or IUD in for an extra year, the FDA hasn't changed its recommendations on these birth control methods yet. So while this new science might make you feel better about accidentally keeping a device in too long, you should still talk to your doctor before putting an expired birth control method to the test.

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors. 

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