About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) reports on the prescribing of long acting reversible methods of contraception (LARC) in primary care and sexual health settings in Scotland. This includes the contraceptive implant, intrauterine device (IUD) and intrauterine system (IUS).

Main points

In primary care and sexual health settings combined in 2021/22:

  • The LARC prescribing rate increased from 32.1 to 50 per 1,000 women between 2020/21 and 2021/22 as services continued to recover from wider impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image caption LARC prescribing rate by NHS Board of prescription
  • The increase in LARC prescribing numbers and rates compared to the previous year can be observed in all NHS Board areas.
  • There is variation in LARC prescribing across Health Board areas which may relate to differences in the age structure of Boards and/or patients living in one area but accessing services in another.
  • The contraceptive implant remained the most common type of LARC prescribed with rates of 23.4 per 1,000 women compared to 20.3 and 6.3 for the IUS and IUD respectively.
  • Of prescriptions given where the patient's age was known, those under 35 were more likely to be prescribed the contraceptive implant while those aged 35 and over were more likely to be prescribed the IUS.


This report focuses on very long acting methods of contraception; namely the contraceptive implant, IUD and IUS. Contraceptive injections are also reported on but are presented separately.

In typical use, the ‘long acting’ methods of contraception have a lower failure rate than alternative reversible methods such as the contraceptive pill or condoms. In August 2011, the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework 2011-2015 was launched, followed in 2015 by the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework 2015-2020 Update. In August 2021, Reset and Rebuild: A Recovery Plan for Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Services was published, detailing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on sexual health and blood borne virus services in Scotland. Increasing the availability of LARC is also one of the aims of the Scottish Government's recent Women's Health Plan which seeks to drive forward change and improvement in women's health.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be September 2023.

General enquiries

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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