Good news for people who love long-acting birth control… New research from Washington University in Saint Louis shows that the implant and the Mirena IUD keep working for at least a year longer than their FDA-approved expiration dates.
The implant works for 4 years
Right now, the label of the implant (a.k.a. Nexplanon, previously known as Implanon) says it can be used for 3 years. In the new study, 123 women used the implant for an additional year. Guess how many got pregnant during the fourth year? Zero.
Mirena IUDs work for 6 years
The Mirena IUD label says it can be used for 5 years. In the Washington University study, 108 women used it for an additional year. There was one pregnancy in this group—to a woman who had a partially expelled IUD. Even including that pregnancy, there were still fewer than 1 in 100 women who became accidentally pregnant in the sixth year when using a Mirena, which is about the same as women using this method for up to 5 years.
So why do the implant and Mirena labels say 3 or 5 years?
Birth control labels aren’t the most up-to-date source of information about a method and it can take a lot of time and money to get them updated. Luckily, health care providers can be quicker to keep up with research and change their recommendations based on new evidence.
The women and the research team involved in this study are still gathering data and will have even more information about how long it’s safe to use these methods. We’ll keep our ear to the ground and keep you posted!