Birth control rings are becoming more and more popular of late as an effective, easy-to-use alternative to more traditional forms of birth control such as the combined and mini pill. If used properly, they can be very effective at preventing pregnancy; however, as with every type of contraceptive there are caveats and side effects. Here's what you need to know.
Birth control devices such as the NuvaRing are soft, donut-shaped about two inches in diameter that are inserted into the vagina. Once inside the vagina, it slowly release the hormones estrogen and progesterone into the blood stream over a 3 or 4 week period, preventing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus membrane. However, these hormones usually take a full seven days to take affect, so for the first one or two weeks of your new regimen, you should continue using an alternative form of birth control such as the male condom (which also protects against sexually transmitted diseases ) or diaphragm.
When used correctly, contraception rings rival pills in effectiveness at more than 99% effectiveness; however, also like with the pill, human error is an issue. In typical use, actual effectiveness rates average only about 95%. Most mistakes revolve around a woman forgetting to insert a new ring at the beginning of every cycle although occasionally, rings are known to fall out unnoticed.
Possible side effects of birth control rings include irregular menstrual bleeding, mood changes, blood clots, vaginal irritation, and discharge. Additionally, it is recommend that women who smoke or are over the age of 35 not use birth control rings as those two risk factors may increase the incidence and severity of side effects.
In conclusion, the birth control ring is a viable alternative for non-smoking women under the age of 35 years old. Only your doctor can help you decide if it's the right birth control option for you.