The Vaginal Ring: An Alternative to Birth Control Pills
by Skye Schulte, MS, MPH
The vaginal ring is a thin, colorless, flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks and is then removed for one week while the woman has her period. Low doses of estrogen and progestin are continuously released from the ring, which is replaced monthly. Like birth control pills, the vaginal ring is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, though its effectiveness decreases if used improperly.
The Advantages TOP
Advantages of the ring include:
The Disadvantages TOP
Disadvantages of the ring include:
Some serious side effects of hormonal contraceptives like the vaginal ring include blood clots in the legs, lungs, stroke, and heart attack. Smoking increases these risks. These are similar to many other types of hormonal contraception. Talk to your doctor about all possible side effects.
Certain drugs, such as antibiotics, antiseizure drugs, tuberculosis (TB) medicines, and migraine medicines can affect the effectiveness of the vaginal ring. The herb St. John's Wort can also interfere with effectiveness of this ring. Talk to your doctor about all of the medicines and supplements you are taking.
If any of the following symptoms occur while you are wearing the vaginal ring, contact your doctor immediately:
Do not use the vaginal ring if you might be pregnant or are breastfeeding. It is also not recommended for women with the following health concerns:
Other Things You Should Know About Vaginal Rings TOP
National Women's Health Information Center
US Food and Drug Administration
The Canadian Women's Health Network
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Contraception. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.or.... Accessed June 14, 2012.
Birth control vaginal ring (NuvaRing). Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.planned.... Accessed June 14, 2012.
How does it NuvaRing work? Nuvaring website. Available at: http://www.nuvaring.com/Consumer/how-it-works/index.asp . Accessed June 14, 2012.
Vaginal ring. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.america... . Updated June 2006. Accessed June 14, 2012.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 6/14/2012
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