PEORIA — UnityPoint Health is offering a new form of birth control.

Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) is a one-time long-term method of birth control that can be easily removed by a doctor. Users have three to ten years of birth control depending on which method they use.

“My goal is to improve reproductive health for women. I’m always looking for opportunities to increase our community’s access to birth control, especially the under served public insurance population,” said Dr. Rahmat Na’Allah, UnityPoint Clinic – Family Medical Center provider and Family Residency Program faculty member.

In addition to providing the option to women at the UnityPoint Clinic Family Medical Center, the organization is also working to get more physicians trained to dispense LARC.

“As a faculty member in our residency program, I want to train the residents to be more competent and confident in contraceptive procedures. Currently less than 20 percent of family physicians nationwide are trained in LARC placement. As a doctor, I want to increase accessibility for our patients,” said Na’Allah.

UnityPoint Health is offering women two LARC options. Nexplanon is an arm implant. A plastic rod the size of a matchstick is inserted in the arm under the skin. The intrauterine device is a T-shaped plastic device placed inside the uterus. A non-hormone copper IUD alternative is available. Nexplanon and the IUDs release the hormone progestin, which make it difficult for sperm to reach an egg in the uterus.

Women who use LARC don’t require any other form of birth control. LARC also reduces menstrual pain, and doesn’t interfere with sexual activity. Many women like LARC because it can make periods lighter. And because they don’t have to take a pill every day or renew a prescription, it’s more convenient, said Na'Allah.

“LARC is the most effective birth control with a failure rate of less than one percent,” said Na’Allah. “All the major healthcare organizations like the CDC, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Pediatrics support these findings.”

Na’Allah notes that contrary to popular belief, the risk of an IUD puncturing the uterus is less than 2 percent. Her team takes extra precaution in measuring the depth of a woman’s uterus before placing the IUD to ensure it is safely secure.

“Every woman has a right to plan their pregnancy, so they can be empowered and productive members of society. To help women reach their best, they need to have access to birth control. I want to help our community and beyond. I want to be able to train more future family physicians so wherever they go to practice they are part of the solution and not part of the problem,” said Na’Allah.

The Family Medical Center is a UnityPoint Health family medicine and residency clinic with the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria partnership. Doctors at the clinic are currently dispensing the LARC devices during a once-a-month clinic, but the program may be expanded to once a week to meet demand.

UnityPoint Clinic – Family Medical Center is at 815 Main St. in Downtown Peoria. To schedule a LARC appointment to speak to a provider about different LARC options, call 672-4977.