The NuvaRing - hormones only where you need them

Everything you need to know about NuvaRing

The NuvaRing is a type of contraception. It’s a small, soft ring which is placed inside the vagina and continually releases hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy. It works in the same way as the pill, it’s just in a different format. 

 

How does NuvaRing work?

NuvaRing, or the vaginal ring, contains both oestrogen and progesterone hormones. They are released into the womb, preventing ovulation from taking place- where the ovaries release an egg each month. It also thins the womb lining and makes the mucus around the cervix thicker to make it harder for sperm to get through. Each ring lasts for 21 days and should be removed and replaced every month.

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How to use NuvaRing

You should start using NuvaRing on the first day of your period. If this isn’t possible, you can start it at a different time in your cycle but you won’t be protected against pregnancy right away. In this case, you’d need to use condoms for the first 7 days. When you’re ready, wash your hands and hold the ring between your thumb and forefinger, squeezing it gently and then insert it into the vagina in a similar way to a tampon.

It doesn’t need to be sitting all the way up, it just needs to be in a position that’s comfortable for you. You’ll also need to be able to reach it to take it back out again. Make sure you take note of the day and date- it needs to be removed again 21 days (3 weeks later). Then, much like the pill, wait 7 days before inserting a new one. 

 

How effective is the NuvaRing?

The NuvaRing is just as effective as the pill. When it’s used correctly, it’s more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means inserting and removing it on time and putting it back in right away if it falls out. You can still use tampons with the NuvaRing and treatments like thrush or bacterial vaginosis will not affect it.

 

NuvaRing vs the pill

NuvaRing has the same effect on your body as the pill as they both prevent pregnancy in the same way. With the ring, you can put it in and not have to think about it for 3 weeks, whereas you need to remember to take the pill at the same time every day. Unlike the pill, the effectiveness of the ring isn’t compromised by an upset stomach so if you get sick it will still work. 

On the downside, there is a chance the NuvaRing can fall out. If this happens, you can usually clean it and reinsert it, depending on how long you leave it out. You’ll also need to record when you’ve started the ring as there’s nothing to remind you to change it- like the way the pill has the days of the week printed on the pack so that you can follow it easily. 
 

Is NuvaRing suitable for me?

Hormonal contraception, including the NuvaRing, isn’t suitable for all women to use and can pose a potential health risk to certain groups. You won’t be able to use it if: 

  • You’ve ever had a blood clot
  • You have heart problems
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You smoke and are over 35
  • You get bad migraines
  • You are very overweight
  • You are diabetic and have complications 
  • You are taking medications for epilepsy or HIV
  • You are taking certain antibiotics

In addition, if you are not comfortable with using the ring inside of the vagina and do not like touching your vagina, then this probably isn’t a good option for you. 

 

How soon can I use NuvaRing after giving birth?

If you want to start using contraception after having a baby, you can use NuvaRing 21 days after giving birth. However, you should avoid it if you are breastfeeding as it can affect your breastmilk. Progesterone-only hormonal contraceptives are a good alternative. After having a miscarriage, you can use the ring straight away. 

 

Does NuvaRing cause side effects?

Using NuvaRing can cause side effects, especially at first. It also increases the risk of experiencing a blood clot, or breast cancer. A blood clot can happen in the leg or lung and can cause a heart attack or stroke. However, the risk of this is very small. It can also cause toxic shock syndrome in rare cases.

Common side effects include: 

  • Vaginal irritation 
  • Headache
  • Discomfort
  • Mood changes
  • Depression 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Breast tenderness
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Vaginal discharge

 

What should I do if I forget about my ring?

If you’ve left your NuvaRing in longer than the 21 days, the action you should take will depend on how long it’s been in for. If it’s been less than 7 days since you should have taken it out, this won’t affect your protection. Simply take it out and start your 7 days break. 

If it’s been more than 7 days, remove it and put a new one in right away. You won’t be effectively protected against pregnancy so you’ll need to use an additional type of contraception, like condoms, for the next 7 days. You might also need to take the morning after pill if you’ve recently had sex. 

 

Sources

NHS> Vaginal Ring (NuvaRing) 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/vaginal-ring/?tabname=questions-about-the-pill

NuvaRing: https://www.nuvaring.com/risks-side-effects/

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