Table Of Contents
- What is a Birth Control Vaginal Ring?
- How Does the Vaginal Ring Prevent Pregnancy?
- What Are the Benefits?
- What Are the Disadvantages?
- How Effective is the Vaginal Ring?
- Is the Vaginal Ring Safe?
- How to Use the Vaginal Ring?
What is a Birth Control Vaginal Ring?
A birth control vaginal ring is commonly known by the brand name NuvaRing. It is a small, flexible ring that a women inserts into her vagina once a month to prevent pregnancy. It stays there for a three week period and is taken out for the last week of the month.
How Does the Vaginal Ring Prevent Pregnancy?
Just like other birth control methods, the ring releases hormones such as estrogen and progestin. The ring works by:
- Making cervical mucus thicker in the female body, which prevents sperm from getting into the eggs
- Keeping eggs in the ovaries, so they can’t join the sperm
Without fertilization, pregnancy is impossible.
What Are the Benefits?
The ring is a convenient, simple and safe way to prevent pregnancy. There is no preparation required before intercourse.
In addition, many women who use the ring have lighter and shorter periods.
The ring can also help to protect against:
- Premenstrual symptoms (headaches/depression)
- Infection of ovaries, uterus and tubes
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Irregular/heavy periods
- Iron definecny anemia
- Ovarian and endometrial cancers
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Cysts in ovaries and breasts
- Breast growths (not cancer)
- Menstrual cramps
- Bone thinning
The ring can also be used to control when you have your period. If used continuously, with no monthly break, it can eliminate your period.
What Are the Disadvantages?
There are some undesirable side effects while using the ring. These include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Bleeding between periods
- Breast tenderness
However, NuvaRing may also cause long-lasting side effects which include:
- Vaginal irritation
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Changes to your sex drive
If these problems continue after the first three months, talk to a health care professional and consider other birth control options.
The regular use of oil-based medicines in the vagina, to help with yeast infections, can increase hormones released into the body. Although this will not reduce the effectiveness of the ring, talk to your physician if you need long-term treatment for yeast infections.
Using a birth control method that contains estrogen can result in serious side effects. These cases are rare but include blood clots in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain. In addition, there is also risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Other risks include liver tumors, high blood pressure, gallstones, and yellow of the eyes or skin. Your likelihood of contracting these symptoms increases if you are overweight, a smoker, 35 years or older, or on prolonged bed rest. Risks also increase if you have:
- Inherited blood-clotting disorders (certain)
- High chelosterial
- High blood pressure
Some of the serious problems have warning signs that should be reported to your health care professional immediately.
Some of these warning signs include having:
- Headaches (worse than usual and/or more frequent)
- Bad chest pain or pain in your abdomen
- Achy soreness in your leg(s)
- Sudden headaches (bad and long lasting)
- A new lump in your breast
- Trouble breathing
- Yellowing of eyes and skin
- No period after being regular every month
- Visions of flashing zigzag lines or bright things (an aura) before a bad headache
After you stop using the ring, it will take 1-2 months for your period to return to its original cycle. However, you could experience spotting or irregular periods for up to 6 months. This is more likely to happen to women who had irregular periods before using the ring.
How Effective is the Vaginal Ring?
When used correctly, the NuvaRing is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
- Less than 1 out of 100 women get pregnant when using the Vaginal Ring correctly
- Approx. 9 out of 100 women get pregnant when using the Vaginal Ring incorrectly (not following the 3 week on, 1 week off cycle)
Certain supplements and medicines can reduce the effectiveness of NuvaRing. Some of these include:
- Anti-seizure medicines
- HIV medicines
- Antifungal griseofulvin
- St. John’s wort
- Antibiotics (rifampin and others)
Always consult your doctor before starting a new birth control method, to ensure your current medications will not have a negative effect.
The NuvaRing does not protect against STI’s. The use of a condom is recommended to reduce the risk of these infections.
Is the Vaginal Ring Safe?
NuvaRing is safe to use for most women.
However, you should not be using the NuvaRing if you:
- Are pregnant
- Smoke and are 35 years or older
- Smoke and have high blood pressure
- Need to stay in bed for long period of time
- Experience severe diabetes
In addition, you should not be using the NuvaRing if you have:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Liver cancer or disease
- Lupus (certain conditions)
- Heart valve problems (serious)
- Had a heart attack, angina, stroke or any serious heart problems
- Complications after organ transplant
- Had diabetes for longer than 20 years
- Been treated for blood clots or vein inflammation
- Migraines with an aura
Talk to your health care professional to find out if the NuvaRing is right for you.
How do I use the Vaginal Ring?
Most women find the NuvaRing easy to use. Insert a new ring into your vagina and keep it in place for three weeks in a row. After the third week, take it out and do not insert a new one for one week. This means you have a NuvaRing inserted for 3 weeks every month.
While inserting the ring:
- Check the expiration date on the package
- Wash your hands with soap and water
- Use your fingers to press the sides of the ring together
- Push the ring gently into your vagina – the exact position doesn’t matter
While removing the ring:
- Use your finger by hooking it under the forward rim and gently pull the NuvaRing out
- Use the original packaging to dispose of the ring and throw it in the garbage
- Do not flush the rings because they may contain hormones which can get into the soil and water supply
If the NuvaRing slips out of your vagina and it has been:
- Less than 48 hours: Wash the ring with cool or lukewarm water and put it back in your vagina
- Longer than 48 hours: Use a backup birth control method for the next seven days.
If you forget to remove the NuvaRing for:
Longer than one month:
- Remove the ring
- Put in a a new ring
- Use a combination birth control method for seven days (condom, sponge, or the pull-out method)
Up to one month:
- Remove the ring
- Go one week without inserting a ring
- Insert a new ring and start the 3 week cycle
If you forget to remove the ring on time and have had vaginal intercourse, you may become pregnant. Take a pregnancy test if you think this might be the case and follow up with your doctor.
Check out other Birth Control Options and speak with your doctor before deciding on your birth control method.