A medicated birth control device, the vaginal ring — also known as a NuvaRing® — delivers prescription medicine that effectively prevents pregnancies. It’s a clear plastic ring that you place in your vagina for three weeks at a time. After one week without the ring, you can insert a new ring.
Synthetic hormones provide the NuvaRing effectiveness. These are the same hormones contained in other birth control medication, such as the pill or hormonal UIDs. The ring releases daily doses:
- 120 micrograms of etonorgestrel, a hormonal birth control progestin
- 15 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol, a semisynthetic estrogen compound
While you can still get pregnant on NuvaRing, the hormone treatment above prevents pregnancies 99.7 percent of the time if you use it as directed. Even with “typical use,” which includes making mistakes in the four-week cycle, it still has 91 percent effectiveness.
According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the vaginal ring has the highest satisfaction ranking among all types of contraceptives. It’s effective, freeing and unobtrusive. And it’s completely safe, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NuvaRing and antibiotics don’t mix well, however. If you’re prescribed medications such as rifabutin or rifampicin, typically used to treat tuberculosis, you risk reducing the NuvaRing effectiveness. Taking St. John’s Wort as a supplement can also lessen the NuvaRing effectiveness.
Using the NuvaRing
The vaginal ring is one size only, but most women can comfortably use it. Don’t worry about how to insert NuvaRing — it’s easy. Simply pinch it between a finger and your thumb into an hourglass shape. Then push it carefully up into your vagina. You can place it anywhere inside, but the deeper you push it, the less likely you’ll feel it. It stays in place, delivering its hormones to your bloodstream through the walls of your vagina.
The ring is convenient. If you’re wondering when to start NuvaRing, the answer is anytime. You can start using the ring at any stage of your menstrual cycle. Women who use the ring have found that their cycles adapt to their use. So you’ll likely get your period during your ring-free week.
Side Effects of the NuvaRIng
Compared to other contraceptive medication, the vaginal ring has very few side effects. That’s one of the reasons it’s been so popular among women who tried it. Some possible side effects include:
- You increase your chances of developing blood clots, heart attacks or strokes. These are the same risks as you’d expect from going on the pill. Obese women are at higher risk.
- There is a real but slightly higher possibility of suffering from toxic shock syndrome, a complication from a bacterial infection. If you develop a fever, with or without vomiting and diarrhea, seek medical attention.
- You may feel some discomfort or mild irritation inside your vagina.
- Mood changes can occur while you’re wearing the vaginal ring. If you feel depressed, contact your doctor, especially if you’ve dealt with depression in the past.
- You may experience headaches, including migraines.
- Rarely, you’ll notice irregular bleeding, but it isn’t serious.
- You also may experience a feeling of nausea that may include vomiting.
- NuvaRing weight gain is another known side effect.
- You may notice an increased discharge. This isn’t considered serious unless it persists.
Benefits of NuvaRing
With the vaginal ring, you get to make your own contraceptive decisions. You don’t need your partner’s permission. There are other benefits, as well, such as:
- The NuvaRing is convenient; you insert it once every four weeks.
- If you forget to take it out after three weeks, it continues working for another week.
- While wearing the ring, you don’t have to think about contraception when you’re sexually active.
- Neither you nor your partner should feel the NuvaRing during sex. Such occurrences are very rare.
- You may have lighter periods after you start using the NuvaRing.
- You may notice fewer cramps caused by menstruation.
- If you’re prone to acne, you may notice that it subsides somewhat.
- The hormone treatment from the vaginal ring actually contributes to stronger bones.
Some women may feel uncomfortable inserting the vaginal ring, but it offers so many advantages that it’s worth it to keep trying. It’s not that difficult to put it in place. Other concerns may include:
- It cannot, of course, protect your from STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) or infections.
- You have to visit your doctor and get a prescription for the ring. You have to go to a pharmacy to buy one.
- You have to remember (or mark your calendar) to take out the old ring and when to insert the new one.
- It’s normal for new users to be concerned about the vaginal ring falling out, either during the day or during sex, but the incidents of this happening are very rare.
- It’s rare, but your ring may come out when removing a tampon or when using the toilet. (If that happens, you can rinse it with clean, warm water and reinsert it, as long as it hasn’t been out for longer than three hours.)
- If your ring does happen to come out (or you want to temporarily remove it), you can keep it out for up to three hours without worrying about ruining it. If you leave it out longer than three hours, discard it and insert a new one.
- The NuvaRing doesn’t cause any more secretions during sex, either. Its only purpose is to stop you from ovulating; it doesn’t affect the quality of your sexual act.
- If you’re still unsure whether the NuvaRing is right for you, some doctors may offer you a trial one to see if you like it.
As You Start
The first time you use the vaginal ring, it’s recommended that you use an additional contraceptive for the first seven days, especially if you’re starting your prescription on a day other than Day One of your normal menstrual cycle. During the first month, watch for any of the symptoms discussed in the Side Effects section. Otherwise, you can rest assured the NuvaRing is working as advertised.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult ob/gyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have questions about Nuvaring vaginal ring birth control? Would like to schedule an appointment with nationally recognized Gynecologist NYC, Dr. Pedram Bral of Manhattan Women’s Health and Wellness, please contact our office for OBGYN consultation.consultation.
Dr. Pedram Bral, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4575