Vaginal ring: use, features, method of contraception
If you are tired of tracking dangerous days every month according to the ovulation calendar, you are surely looking for a contraceptive. What is the vaginal ring, how it works, what are the pros and cons of this method of contraception, read the article.
The vaginal ring as a method of contraception: the pros and cons
The vaginal ring refers to hormonal methods of contraception, it is a latex ring for vaginal use, 4 mm thick and 5.5 cm in diameter. It is placed in the vagina for 21 days, then utilized (not flushed into the toilet). After 7 days, you put a new ring inside.
Two hormones, progestin, and estrogen are continuously released from the ring, blocking the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation), as well as complicating the penetration of the sperm cell and the attachment of the egg to the uterine wall.
Short vaginal ring
- When used properly, the vaginal ring is more than 99% efficient.
- One ring will provide contraception for a month, so you don’t have to think about it every day.
does not interrupt sex.
- Unlike the pill, the ring is still effective, even if you have vomiting or diarrhea.
- The ring may relieve symptoms of PMS, and menstruation is likely to be easier and less painful.
- Some women experience temporary side effects, including more discharge, breast tenderness, and headaches.
- Few women develop blood clots (thrombosis), but this is extremely rare.
- The ring can sometimes go out on its own, but you can rinse it in warm water and put it back in as soon as possible. You may need emergency contraception, depending on how long the ring has been inside.
- The vaginal ring does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How the vaginal ring works
In the vagina, the vaginal ring regularly releases hormones that prevent the onset of ovulation. They thicken the lining of the uterus and do not allow the egg to fertilize and attach.
Use of the vaginal ring
You can start using the vaginal ring at any time during the menstrual cycle. It is inserted for 21 days and then removed to provide a 7-day break. During this break, you are also protected from pregnancy, after which you place the ring inside for 21 days.
The vaginal ring license states that:
- you will be protected from pregnancy immediately if you put the ring on the first day of the cycle (on the first day of the menstrual cycle)
- you will not be protected from pregnancy if you start using the ring at any other time of the menstrual cycle, and you will need to use additional contraceptives (for example, condoms) for the first seven days
There are other recommendations that the ring will protect against pregnancy immediately if you start it before the fifth day of the menstrual cycle.
With clean hands, squeeze the ring with your fingers, reducing its diameter, and gently push the vagina as far as possible.
If after that you feel uncomfortable, correct the ring with your fingers.
Taking the correct position, it will become imperceptible.
You should be able to check that the ring is in place with your fingers. If you cannot do this or something is wrong, consult a doctor. The ring inside cannot be lost.
After three weeks, remove the ring in the vagina.
To remove the ring:
- With clean hands, place a finger in the vagina and wind it around the edge of the ring.
- gently pull the ring
- throw the ring in a special package in the bin – do not flush into the toilet
Removing the ring should be painless. If you have any bleeding or pain, or you can not pull out the ring, consult a doctor immediately.
After removing the ring, you should have a week break. During this period, you may have bleeding.
After 7 days break, you insert a new ring. Even if the selection still continues, continue the cycle.
While the ring is inside, you can use tampons or have sex. Perhaps you and your partner will feel the ring in the process, but it is harmless.
If you forgot to take out the ring
If you forget to remove the ring after 21 days, your next steps depend on how long the ring has remained inside.
If the ring was inside up to 7 days after the third week:
- as soon as you remember, immediately remove the ring
- do not insert new – go to the 7-day interval
- insert a new ring after the break as usual
- you are protected from pregnancy and you do not need additional contraception
If the ring remained inside for more than 7 days (more than 4 weeks in total)
- remove the ring as soon as you remember
- insert a new ring right away
It is also recommended to use additional contraceptives until the period of use of the new ring is 7 days.
You may need extreme contraception if you had unprotected sexual intercourse shortly before changing rings.
If you forgot to insert a new vaginal ring
Do this as soon as you remember and use additional contraception for 7 days.
You may need extreme contraception if you had a PA before installing a new ring, and the break was delayed for more than 48 hours (in general, 9 days).
If the vaginal ring came out by itself
Sometimes it happens. Usually, it can happen after or during sex, or if you have constipation. Your actions depend on how long the ring is not inside and what week you have in the cycle of using the ring.
Your doctor will tell you what your protection is in such cases.
The information is further based on the license.
If the ring is not inside for more than 3 hours in the first or second week, wash it and put it back. For seven days you will have to use additional contraception. Also, if you have had PA for the past few days, you may need an emergency contraceptive.
If the ring is not inside for more than 3 hours in the third week, do not insert it back. You have two options:
- You can immediately install a new ring.
- take a 7-day break. You will have a selection, after which you will install a new ring (7 days after the previous one was released). This option is suitable if the ring was inside for more than 7 days prior to release.
In any case, you will need to use additional contraception until the new ring is within 7 days.
Who is the vaginal ring for?
Some women may not use the vaginal ring. Only a doctor, based on the medical history you provided, can determine the best method of contraception for you. The ring may not be suitable if you:
- have a blood clot in a vein or artery
- had problems with heart or blood circulation, including high blood pressure
- older than 35 and smoke or quit last year
- have a strong migraine with aura
- have had breast cancer in the last five years
- have diabetes with complications
- are overweight
- take certain medications
- have such vaginal muscles that the vaginal ring cannot miss
If you do not smoke and there are no medical reasons for which the vaginal ring is contraindicated, you can use it for up to 50 years.
Vaginal ring after childbirth
You can start using the vaginal ring 21 days after giving birth, and you will immediately be protected from pregnancy.
If you insert the ring more than 21 days after delivery, you will need to use additional contraceptives for seven days after you insert the ring.
A vaginal ring can reduce the flow of milk if you are breastfeeding a baby for up to six months. For this period, it is usually recommended to use another method of contraception.
Vaginal ring after miscarriage or abortion
You can start using the ring right after a miscarriage or abortion, and it will immediately start working.
You do not need to use additional contraception.
Benefits of the vaginal ring
- it does not interrupt sex
- easy to insert and remove
- you don’t need to think about contraception every time
- the ring does not lose effectiveness if you have vomiting or diarrhea
- can ease PMS
- menstruation becomes easier, more regular and less painful
- may reduce the risk of ovarian, uterine and colon cancer
- may reduce the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts, and non-cancerous breast diseases
- you may not be suitable if you are uncomfortable to insert and remove it from the vagina
- bleeding during ring use may occur during the first few months
- may cause temporary side effects, such as increased vaginal discharge, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, and mood changes
- the vaginal ring does not protect against STIs
Interaction with other drugs
Some drugs can interact with the vaginal ring and cause changes in its effectiveness. Always consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking any new drug.
The vaginal ring can interact with enzyme-inducing drugs. These drugs accelerate the breakdown of progestogen in the liver, reducing the effectiveness of the ring.
Examples of such drugs are:
- drugs used in the treatment of epilepsy – carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital, primidone and topiramate
- Hypericum (herbal medicine)
- antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV infection
Your doctor may prescribe alternative or additional forms of contraception when taking any of these drugs.
There are some serious side effects, but cases of occurrence are quite rare. These include:
- a blood clot in a vein or artery
- heart attack or stroke
Research suggests that all women who use hormonal contraception have a slightly higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer than women who do not use hormonal contraception.