Birth Control Options
What is it?
The vaginal ring (also known as Nuvaring* or "The Ring") is a soft, flexible, clear plastic ring that is inserted into a women's vagina for three weeks, and then removed for one week. It is a highly effective and reversible hormonal method of birth control.
- When inserted into the vagina, the ring slowly releases estrogen and progestin
- These hormones are absorbed through the vagina and into the bloodstream
- The ring does not need to be in a particular position in the vagina to be effective. It is held in place by the walls of the vagina, and a woman usually cannot feel the ring once it is in place.
Here are detailed instructions on how to insert and remove the vaginal ring.
How does it work?
Like oral contraceptive pills, the vaginal ring works to prevent pregnancy in 3 ways:
- Stops the ovaries from releasing eggs
- Thickens the cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg
- Changes the lining of the uterus, making implantation difficult
How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?
The vaginal ring is 99.7% effective when it is used perfectly. With typical use, it is 92% effective in preventing pregnancy.
What are the advantages?
- A reversible and highly effective birth control method
- Once a month regimen (no daily routine required)
- Regulates menstrual cycles
- Lighter periods and possibly less cramping
- Does not interfere with sex
- Expected to provide other benefits similar to oral contraceptives (research is still needed)
What are the disadvantages?
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
- Hormones may cause side effects such as: irregular bleeding and spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headache, vaginal irritation, discomfort and discharge. These side effects generally disappear after a few months.
- The ring may fall out (uncommon)
- May cause vaginal discomfort or irritation (uncommon)
- May increase the risk of blood clots, particularly in women who have certain blood disorders or a family history of blood clots
- Need a prescription from a health professional