Helping Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies
Birth control comes in many shapes and forms. They are often used for more than just preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections these days. There are birth controls that are one-time use, like condoms, and then there are ones that can prevent the female reproductive system from releasing an egg every cycle. These would be products like the birth control pill, the patch or an IUD. Another option is to use a vaginal birth control ring.
What is Vaginal Ring Birth Control?
Vaginal ring birth control is a small tube-like flexible ring made from soft plastic that you simply insert at the end of your period each month to help prevent pregnancy.
The flexible ring itself slowly releases the two hormones, estrogen and progestogen, into the body and bloodstream. The increase in these two hormones in the body prevents you from releasing an egg throughout your cycle.
On top of preventing the release of an egg, the vaginal ring, also called an estradiol vaginal ring, will increase the production of mucus in the vagina. This makes it more difficult for sperm to travel through the vagina. Releasing hormones like these also thins the lining of the uterine wall, making it hard for any fertilized egg to implant.
Since less lining is produced each month through your cycle, many report a decrease in the amount of bleeding they experience during their periods.
How to Use It
Using the flexible ring is quite simple. Many find it a lot easier to use than the pill because you don’t have to remember to do it daily.
- Insert the ring vaginally by pinching its sides together and sliding it into the vaginal canal. Leave it in for 21 days.
- At the end of 21 days, pull it out and throw it away.
- Leave the ring out for the next seven days, during which you will have your period.
- After seven days, put the new flexible ring in for another 21 days.
The ring is supposed to take effect and prevent pregnancy after seven days of it being inserted. However, most physicians say it can take up a full cycle before being completely effective against pregnancy. It is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy but will not prevent you from contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
Benefits of Vaginal Ring Birth Control
Now we know two of the benefits of using vaginal ring birth control: preventing unwanted pregnancy and decreasing the amount of bleeding during your period. However, there are many more.
Some of the other benefits of estradiol vaginal rings are:
- It is one of the lowest hormonal dose birth controls, meaning that it is less likely to affect mood.
- Convenient because you don’t have to take it every day.
- Less risk of irregular bleeding.
- A better option for women who have anemia.
- Shown to reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
- It can improve symptoms related to endometriosis, like painful period cramps.
- It can help improve hormone-related acne.
I suffer from endometriosis and used the NuvaRing vaginal ring birth control for years to help improve my symptoms.
Possible Side Effects
Like any prescription-based product, estradiol vaginal rings have possible side effects. These can range from minor to severe, so it’s always important to be aware of anything new or weird happening after you start using a product like this.
Some minor side effects include:
- Breast tenderness
- Increase in acne
- Mild mood swings
The more moderate to severe side effects are:
- Severe headaches or migraines.
- Vomiting and no appetite.
- Significant increase in body weight.
- Breast enlargement with discharge.
- Irregular bleeding that happens in more than one cycle.
- Increase in the growth of dark hair on the face.
- Major depression.
- Blood clotting.
If any of these side effects happen to you, it is important to remember that you should contact your doctor before stopping use of the contraceptive.
While it may seem like a good idea to stop using on your own, you could be putting yourself at risk. The same goes for stopping the use of the contraceptive and then starting use again after a few months. This is because doing that can also put you at risk of blood clots as well.
Some final thing to remember about vaginal ring birth control is that it will not prevent you from contracting any STIs. You will also have to get a prescription for it from your doctor. Finally, if you are obese, a heavy smoker or over the age of 35, then the birth control ring may not be safe for you to use.