The contraceptive ring is a hormonal form of birth control. The doughnut shaped flexible ring is inserted into the vagina and releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. The active ingredients in the also called vaginal ring, are estrogen and progestrogen. One advantage of the vaginal contraceptive ring is that once it is inserted, you do not need to think about this birth control method for three weeks, until it is time to remove the old ring and insert a new one.
How Does Vaginal Contraceptive Ring Work?
The hormones progesterone and estrogen released by the ring into your bloodstream prevent ovulation during the menstrual cycle. And since there isn’t any egg released from the ovaries, fertilization cannot take place by the sperm and the chances of pregnancy are nullified.
Additionally, the hormones released by the ring also thicken the mucus, the outer lining of the cervix, and make it harder for the sperm to enter the uterus and reach any eggs which might have been released. If an egg does get fertilized it still cannot attach itself to the uterus and impregnate a woman because the hormones also affect the lining of the uterus and prevent any fertilized egg attaching itself to the uterus.
How to Use a Vaginal Contraceptive Ring
The birth control ring is used, based upon the monthly menstrual cycle of a woman, similar to the birth control pill or the contraception patch . Just like a vaginal diaphragm, it is inserted into the vagina on the first day of the menstrual cycle and remains in place for a total of three weeks. At the end of the third week and probably on the same day of the week it was inserted, it has to be removed. The menstrual period occurs within a few days, during the fourth week. At the end of the fourth week, on the same day of the week the last ring was inserted, a new ring is inserted and the process begins again.
The ring does not work on the barrier method of birth control, so there isn’t any preferable position of the ring in the vagina. The only requirement is that it should be comfortable. If it doesn’t feel comfortable, you can try different positions by moving it further back or reinserting it. Once the ring once is in place, most women cannot even feel it. It can be safely used during activities like swimming, bathing and even during sexual intercourse.
Advantages Of The Vaginal Contraceptive Ring
- The vaginal ring is a good alternative for women who find it difficult to remember to take a pill every day or who have difficulty in swallowing pills.
- Does not require any specific position, can be placed anywhere in the vagina according to the wearer’s comfort.
- The vaginal ring causes regular, lighter and shorter periods.
- The contraceptive ring prevents menstrual cramps and premenstrual symptoms.
- Women have also reported decrease in headaches and loss of depression.
- The ring may protect against cysts and cancer of the ovaries and uterus.
Disadvantages of The Vaginal Contraceptive Ring
- The vaginal ring does not protect against STDs. Additional measures, such as using a condom, have to be taken for protection against STD’s.
- Some women have reported side effects of the use of the vaginal contraceptive ring. Some of the side effects are vaginal irritation or infections, mood swings, blood clots (for women over the age of 35 and smoke regularly).
- The ring can slip out and fall. If it does, you must wash it running water (without using soap) and re-insert it within three hours.
Vaginal contraceptive ring is one of many female contraceptives available, always consult your doctor regarding which birth control device is best for you.