The birth control ring is a small ring made of soft, flexible plastic that a woman places inside her vagina near the cervix to prevent pregnancy. It has the same mechanism of action as birth control pills. It releases a steady dose of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) into the female body, and those hormones prevent the release of an egg from the ovaries. In order to be effective, it must be positioned correctly. When properly positioned, the vaginal birth control ring should not move around, so the wearer won’t feel it.
How Does the Birth Control Ring Work?
To prevent pregnancy, the birth control ring and the hormones it releases also thicken the cervical mucus so that sperm find it hard to swim from the cervix to the uterus and to the fallopian tube. The hormones also cause the thinning of the uterus lining to make it impossible for the fertilized egg to implant itself in the extremely rare event of an egg getting fertilized while on these hormones.
How Effective Is the Birth Control Ring?
The birth control ring is very effective — when used as instructed it offers 99% protection for up to a month.
The most commonly known type of vaginal birth control ring is the NuvaRing, which is a brand name of ring that is available through a healthcare provider. Other types may be available, depending on the insurance and pharmacy where the prescription is filled. All vaginal birth control rings, regardless of brand, contain the combination hormones and are made of soft, flexible plastic for easy insertion and removal.
What Are the Advantages of the Birth Control Ring?
One of the biggest advantages of a birth control ring is that women can insert it at home without going to their healthcare provider. The ring is easy to insert into the vagina. Simply wash your hands and hold the ring between your thumb and finger. Squeeze a little bit and insert the narrow part of the device into the vagina, where it will resume its round shape. The ring stays in the vagina for three weeks, after which you remove it for seven days. NuvaRing continues to provide protection during those seven days. During the seven days when the ring is not inserted, a regular menstrual period will usually begin within two to three days. Even if the period is still going on, the new ring can be inserted after seven days.
The vaginal ring can also improve menstrual periods, including helping to make them more regular and reduce the flow. When using the ring, menstrual cramps may also be lessened. If desired, the vaginal ring can be used to safely skip a period. This is done by simply placing a new ring as soon as the previous ring is removed, rather than leaving it out for seven days.
In some women, the vaginal birth control ring helps to lessen or prevent hormonal acne, iron deficiency, certain types of cancers, breast and ovarian cysts, infections of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, and bone thinning. Using it can also reduce the risk of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, or a pregnancy that forms in the fallopian tubes.
When a woman using the birth control ring wants to get pregnant, she can typically do so soon after discontinuing its use. For most women, it takes about one or two months for regular periods to return after removing the ring.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of the Birth Control Ring?
Like other forms of hormonal birth control, users may experience some minor side effects when using the vaginal ring. The most common side effects include cervical or vaginal irritation, mood changes, nausea and vomiting, changes in mood, breast pain or tenderness, abdominal pain, lessened sexual desire, headaches, and vaginal discharge.
The ring can also slip out during normal use, although this is not common and usually only occurs when the ring isn’t positioned properly. Smoking while using the vaginal ring can increase the risk of more serious side effects, including blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
Should I Choose the Vaginal Birth Control Ring?
The NuvaRing relieves a woman from the daily hassle of popping a pill, and unlike the IUD and the contraceptive implant, it doesn’t require a trip to the doctor to get it inserted. It’s also a birth control option that doesn’t require the user to inform their sexual partner about its use. It’s up to the wearer whether they want to tell their partner that they’re using the vaginal ring. This option doesn’t require the user to stop during sexual activity to use it, which is appealing as well.
If you would like to learn more about the birth control ring or find out if it’s a good fit for you, talk to your healthcare provider. It does require a prescription. Platforms like Nurx provide women easy access to birth control options, including the vaginal ring. Nurx medical providers can help women choose the birth control that best suits them and their health care needs. You will need to answer some questions about your medical history and lifestyle habits to make sure the ring is a good choice for you. After you receive the prescription, you can get your birth control rings conveniently delivered to your door.