The birth control ring, commonly known as the brand name NuvaRing, is a commonly used method of hormonal birth control. The birth control ring can be an easy-to-use and completely safe option for the vast majority of women.
Women new to birth control or looking to change their chosen method should consider NuvaRing as an option. If you’re interested in some of the specifics of the ring or want to see if it’s right for you, check out the guide below.
How does the birth control ring work?
The birth control ring, like other forms of hormonal birth control, works by increasing the levels of naturally-occurring hormones in a woman’s body. Each ring contains a dosage of both estrogen and progestin, the combination of which helps prevent pregnancy.
This increase in estrogen and progestin prevents ovulation, so no egg can be fertilized. The increase in progestin also thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus to begin with.
How do I use the birth control ring?
The birth control ring is relatively easy to use and requires little maintenance on your part. After cleaning your hands, simply compress the ring with your fingers before inserting it into your vagina.
If inserted properly, you shouldn’t be able to feel the ring as you walk around. If the ring causes you any discomfort normally or during sex, just continue to readjust it until you find a comfortable position. The ring is designed to stay inside of your vagina as much as possible, so it’s important to place it in a way that doesn’t bother you.
Products such as pads, tampons, and menstrual cups can be used while on the ring without interference. While some women choose to bypass their period using the ring, bleeding can still occur.
Starting a New Ring
Your birth control ring schedule is based on whether or not you want to keep your period. If you want to keep your period while on the ring, take it out after 21, 28, or 35 days of continuous use and don’t insert a new one for 7 days. During those seven days, you should have your period. Make sure you insert your new ring exactly 7 days after you removed your previous ring in order to stay on schedule.
For women who want to skip their period, the ring simply needs to be taken out and replaced every 3 to 4 weeks. Make sure to replace the ring immediately in order to give your body the constant supply of hormones necessary to prevent pregnancy.
How effective is the birth control ring?
When used perfectly, fewer than 1 woman out of 100 each year will get pregnant while using the ring. With typical use, however, that number gets raised to approximately 9 out of 100.
While the ring is always an extremely effective method of birth control, usage errors can lower its efficacy. Women who forget to replace their rings on time are at an increased risk for pregnancy. Some women may also experience difficulty with the ring staying in position or inside of the vagina at all. If you have any problems with the ring, use physical contraception such as condoms for 1 week in order to make sure the ring is effective.
Is the birth control ring safe?
For nearly all women, the ring is a completely safe birth control option. Most women who use the ring will experience no side effects at all, and those who do typically report their side effects to be mild and quick to go away.
The estrogen the ring contains, however, can cause medical issues for some women. Women who smoke and are older than the age of 35 are especially advised to find another birth control option that does not contain estrogen. Women who breastfeed may also want to choose a birth control method that does not contain estrogen, as there is some evidence that estrogen can reduce the quantity of breastmilk.
Increased doses of estrogen can also cause medical issues for women with heart problems, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions. Be sure to talk to a medical professional about any concerns you may have regarding your pre-existing conditions.
Side Effects of the Ring
Side effects from the ring are rare, but some of the most common include:
- Breast tenderness
- Tissue irritation inside the vagina
- Vaginal discomfort
- Changes in mood
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased libido
- Vaginal discharge
- Weight gain
- Abdominal pain
Most medications can be taken normally while using the ring, but some can produce negative interactions — these are the same medication interactions that apply to any birth control containing both estrogen and progestin and include:
- St. John’s wort
- The antibiotic rifampin
- Certain HIV drugs, including lopinavir
- Certain anti-seizure drugs
How do I know if the birth control ring is right for me?
The birth control ring’s simplicity and ease-of-use makes it a universally popular option for preventing unwanted pregnancies. Unlike birth control pills, the ring doesn’t require you to do something every day. Just taking a few minutes every several weeks to replace the ring is enough to keep you protected indefinitely.
As with some other forms of hormonal birth control, the ring can also help with women who have particularly acute periods. Regularly using the ring can reduce the symptoms related to PMS and reduce excessive bleeding over time. Women who want to outright eliminate their period can also do so using the ring. Like birth control pills, the ring can also help reduce the severity of acne outbreaks, particularly in younger women.
The ring also allows you to get pregnant soon after you stop using it. Whereas longtime users of the birth control shot may have to wait nearly a year before they can get pregnant, women who stop using the ring can start getting pregnant within two months or sooner.
One potential disadvantage of the ring is that it must be replaced regularly and precisely in order to remain effective. If you do not think you can take out and insert a new ring on the same day every 3 to 4 weeks, more long-term birth control options like the birth control shot, implant, or IUD might work better for you.
How do I get the birth control ring?
In order to get the birth control ring, you’ll need a prescription from a medical professional. While your regular healthcare provider can likely prescribe you the ring after a preliminary appointment, you can also get your ring through Nurx.
If you complete a Nurx online consultation today, one of our birth control experts can help figure out the best birth control option for you. We can prescribe NuvaRing at special request, though we also offer the generic equivalent for as little as $0 for insured women and $150 for those without insurance.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.