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The Vaginal Ring: An Alternative to Birth Control Pills
- Only needs to be changed once a month
- Is easy to insert and remove
- Does not require a visit to the doctor for insertion or removal
- Does not interrupt sexual activity
- May have less spotting or irregular bleeding compared with birth control pills
- May reduce the possibility of migraines in some women
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections , including HIV/AIDS
- Requires a prescription
Potential side effects include:
- Vaginal infections and irritation
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Severe abdominal pain or headaches
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Severe leg or arm pain or numbness
- Redness and swelling in legs
- Skin appears yellow in color
- You fail to have a regular period
Other Things You Should Know About Vaginal Rings
- Storing the ring—The ring should be stored at room temperature (no more than 77°F) and away from direct sunlight.
- Taking the ring out—If the ring slips out of the vagina, simply wash it off with cold to lukewarm water (not hot) and reinsert it. The ring can be taken out during sex as long as it is not out for more than three hours. In which case, a back up method of birth control should be used for seven days.
- Pricing—The ring costs about $15-$80 at the pharmacy.
- Switching from other forms of birth control—You can switch directly to a vaginal ring from other hormonal methods of birth control. Talk to your doctor for details.
US Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services http://www.womenshealth.gov
The Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
Birth control vaginal ring (NuvaRing). Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/birth-control-vaginal-ring-nuvaring-4241.htm. Accessed May 6, 2014.
Contraception. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/Departments/Adolescent%20Health%20Care/Teen%20Care%20Tool%20Kit/Contraception.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120614T1305469301. Published 2010. Accessed May 6, 2014.
Contraceptive patch and vaginal rings. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 14, 2014. Accessed May 8, 2014.
How does it NuvaRing work? Nuvaring website. Available at: http://www.nuvaring.com/Consumer/how-it-works/index.asp. Accessed May 6, 2014.
MacGregor EA. Contraception and headache. Headache. 2013 Feb;53(2):247-276.
Vaginal ring. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/preventingpregnancy/vaginal-ring/. Accessed May 6, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 05/15/2014