VAGINAL RINGS

The NuvaRing does the same hormonal thing as combined oral contraceptives and the patch. The difference? It’s a little plastic ring that goes up inside your vagina.

How does NuvaRing work?

The NuvaRing releases a continuous low dose of estrogen and progestin into your bloodstream. These hormones prevent ovulation, meaning your ovaries don’t release any eggs. If there are no eggs chilling in your uterus, there’s nothing for sperm to fertilize. In addition, these hormones thicken your cervical mucous, making it more difficult for sperm to access your uterus in the first place.  Lastly, the hormones alter the lining of your uterus, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant, even if that egg were able to be released and fertilized.

The NuvaRing is coated in these hormones, and they release slowly over a period of three weeks. After this time, you simply take the ring out for a week, let your menstrual cycle do its thing, and put a new ring in after a week.

How do you use NuvaRing?

You just insert the NuvaRing inside your vagina so that it sits in there comfortably. The NuvaRing is about 54mm in diameter, and it’s 4mm thick. It’s flexible, so once you’ve got it placed inside your vagina, your shouldn’t able to feel it. The best part? You can still have sex with the NuvaRing in. Your partner probably won’t feel it, and if they do, it shoudln’t cause any pain or discomfort.

Wear the same ring continuously for three weeks before taking it out. Don’t take the ring out for sex. If you do take the ring out for any reason, make sure you put it back in within three hours. Because three weeks is a long time to go with the ring in, and it’s easy forget when to insert and take out your ring, it’s a good idea to set up a reminder system on your phone or calendar.

If you’re just starting the NuvaRing, use non-hormonal backup protection, like condoms, for the first week until the hormones kick in.

How do you insert the NuvaRing?

I won’t lie, it’s a bit of a learning curve. Pinch the NuvaRing between your thumb and index finger so that the shape changes from a circle into a thin oval. Spread your labia apart with one hand, and insert one end of the oval into your vagina with the other hand. Once half the NuvaRing is inside your vagina, push up on the bottom of the ring until the entire thing is inside of you. From here, you can nudge it around a bit inside your vagina until you find a spot that’s comfortable. The whole insertion process is easiest if you’re standing with one leg straight and the other leg bent with your foot on the toilet.

How do you remove the NuvaRing?

Get back into that position with one leg straight and the other leg bent. Insert one finger inside your vagina and try hooking it around the ring. If you have trouble reaching it, just relax, walk around for a bit, and try again. The NuvaRing can’t get stuck inside of you—there’s nowhere for it to go—so if it’s jammed at the back of your vagina and you can’t seem to get it out, just give it some time to work its way back down.

Can the NuvaRing fall out?

It’s not super common, but it is possible for the NuvaRing to slip out of your vagina if it’s inserted improperly or if you have a particularly aggressive poop. If it does slip out, wash it off and put it right back in. If the ring has been out for less than three hours, you’re still protected against pregnancy.

If the ring has been out for more than three hours, these are your options:

  • If the ring fell out during the first two weeks of your ring cycle, you can reinsert it. Just make sure to use a backup, non-hormonal contraceptive method like condoms for the next seven days.
  • If the ring fell out during the third week of your ring cycle, discard the ring. Now you can do one of two things:
    1. Put a new ring in immediately, and wear it continuously for three weeks. This means you’ll be starting a new three week cycle. It might delay your period by three weeks, but that’s ok.
    2. Go one week without wearing a ring to kickstart your period. After seven days, put a new ring in and begin a new cycle. This might bump your period up by a week, but that’s alright. You can only use this option if you wore the ring continuously for seven days before it fell out. 

How much does NuvaRing cost?

According to Planned Parenthood, the NuvaRing can cost anywhere from $0 to $80. It just depends on how much you’re insurance will cover. The NuvaRing does require a prescription, so if you live in a place where health care isn’t universal, you’ll likely have to pay for your visit to the doctor. The cost of the visit will vary depending on your coverage.

How effective is NuvaRing?

The NuvaRing is highly effective at preventing pregnancy. According to Options for Sexual Health, when used perfectly, the NuvaRing is 99.7% effective at preventing pregnancy. With typical use, the NuvaRing is 92% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Pros

  • Very effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • Can be worn for three weeks at a time, so you don’t have to remember to use it before each sexual encounter.
  • Can be worn during sex.
  • Easily reversible.
  • May lighten periods and some hormone-related symptoms like acne.

Cons

  • Does not protect against STIs.
  • Must be changed every three weeks, some people might struggle to remember when to do this.
  • Can slip out of your vagina.
  • Requires a prescription.
  • Like all hormonal birth controls, it may come with some side effects such as depression, mood swings, headaches, weight gain, bloating, etc.  Talk to your doctor for a full list of potential side effects.

 

References: “How Do I Get NuvaRing?” PlannedParenthood.org, Planned Parenthood, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-vaginal-ring-nuvaring/how-do-i-get-nuvaring; “Relative Effectiveness of Birth Control Methods,” OptionsforSexualHealth.org, Options for Sexual Health, Mar. 2009, https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/birth-control-pregnancy/birth-control-options/effectiveness; “Using the NuvaRing,” OptionsforSexualHealth.org, Options for Sexual Health, Mar. 2009, https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/birth-control-pregnancy/birth-control-options/hormonal-methods/combined-hormonal-contraceptives/using-nuvaring; “What Should I Do If I Mess Up Using NuvaRing?” PlannedParenthood.org, Planned Parenthood, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-vaginal-ring-nuvaring/what-should-i-do-if-i-mess-up-using-nuvaring.
Advertisements