February 27, 2023
What is it?
The vaginal ring (also known as the NuvaRing) is a hormonal birth control device for people with vaginas. It is a flexible, latex-free plastic ring. This is inserted into the vagina. The ring contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These are released over three weeks. After three weeks you remove the ring and then insert a new ring after menstruation.
How does it work?
The ring steadily releases hormones into your bloodstream which then prevents the release of an egg. The ring also thickens the cervical mucus making it more challenging for sperm to enter the cervix. You should put the ring in, and remove it after 21 days for 7 days. Then after a 7-day break, you place a new ring in. Make sure to use additional forms of contraception for the first seven days of using the ring. In addition, the ring does not protect you against STD's so make sure that you are still using a condom when having sex.
How effective is it?
The ring is more than 99% effective. What's great about the ring is that it provides contraception for a month, so you don't have to worry about missing a pill. However, some women may have temporary side effects such as vaginal discharge, breast soreness, and headaches. Nevertheless, the ring may ease premenstrual symptoms.
How to put it in:
Before putting the ring in, always make sure that you have cleaned your hands. Then squeeze the ring between your thumb and fingers. Then you should insert the tip of the ring into your vagina and push it further up until it feels comfortable. The ring does not need to cover the cervix in order to be effective. You can always use your fingers to check that the ring is still in place.
How to remove the ring:
Once again, make sure that your hands are clean! Then place a finger (or two) into your vagina and slowly pull out the ring. Then throw out the ring. If you have any pain when removing the ring you should contact your doctor.
What happens if you forget to take it out?
If you've kept the ring longer than three weeks you should take it out and place a new one in a straightway. Make sure to use additional forms of contraception. If you had sex with an expired ring then you may need the emergency pill, so speak to a pharmacist or doctor for advice.
What happens if the ring comes out?
Your ring may come out on its own during sex or if it was not put in properly. If the ring was out for less than 48 hours and you've used it for less than three weeks, you should wash it and re-insert it asap. However, if the ring has been out for more than 48 hours and it is within the first week of using it you should insert a new ring and use additional contraception for 7 days. You may need emergency contraception.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the ring?
The great thing about the ring is that it is easy to take out and put in, and you don't have to worry about taking a pill every day. Likewise, its effectiveness does not change if you've had diarrhea or vomited and it may help with premenstrual symptoms or heavy bleeding. However, the ring can lead to spotting or bleeding and you may not feel comfortable inserting it. Additionally, the ring does not protect you against STIs. It should be noted that some medicines may make the ring less effective.
There is a very small number of people using the vaginal ring that may develop a blood clot. You should not use the ring if you have had a blood clot before. In addition, research has suggested that some people who use the vaginal ring have a small increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to those who do not use the ring.
For further resources on the ring please refer to the following:
NHS Read more
Planned Parenthood Read more
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