Finding the right birth control can be an exhausting, frustrating ordeal. If you’ve had trouble with the pill and you’d prefer to not have to think about taking your contraceptive every day, the vaginal ring might just be a good fit for you.
First thing first. What is a vaginal ring? Despite its name, this isn’t the newest form of vajazzling or even a kinky piercing for your lady bits. The vaginal ring, often referred to by its brand name NuvaRing, is a soft, flexible, plastic ring that you insert inside your vagina. It’s a hormonal method of contraception that contains both estrogen and progesterone, just like the combined pill.
How does it work? You position the plastic ring up inside your vagina and once in place, the hormones are released and absorbed through your vaginal walls in order to prevent ovulation and thus pregnancy. The ring also works by thickening the cervical mucus, making it more difficult for any sperm to reach the uterus.
It’s great for forgetful people. The great thing about the vaginal ring is that you only have to insert it once a month. Once it’s in your vagina, you leave it there for three weeks uninterrupted, after which you take it out and get your period on the fourth “off” week. After that, you just pop in a new ring and you’re good to go for another round of 21 days.
It takes a bit of practice getting it in place. Although it’s super helpful only having to think about the vaginal ring once a month instead of once a day like with the pill, getting the ring in place will take some practice. It’s easiest to insert when you’re in a comfortable position by pinching the ring into a figure eight to slide it in. It should be far up enough so that your pelvic muscles can hold it in place but it shouldn’t cause any discomfort. After a few hours, you won’t even be able to feel it.
It’s definitely an effective method of birth control. When used properly, the vaginal ring is a highly effective form of contraception with a rate of 99% effectiveness. This means that less than one in 100 women will get pregnant while using it if it’s used according to its directions. To give you some perspective, condoms are theoretically 98% effective if used correctly.
It doesn’t get in the way of having sex. If the vaginal ring has been inserted properly, it shouldn’t get in the way while you’re having sex. If your partner can feel it while you’re in the act, it might mean the ring needs to be pushed up a bit further. In general, neither you nor your partner should be able to feel it while you’re getting down doing the dirty.
It has similar pros and cons to the pill. The vaginal ring and the combined pill are similar in that they are both hormonal methods of contraception and have similar side effects, pros, and cons. Also, like the combined pill, if you do want to skip your period, you can just pop in a new ring after three weeks without giving yourself a bleeding week.
Some people might find it has fewer side effects than the pill. One aspect of the ring that many women might enjoy is the fact that it has lower doses of the hormones in it than the pill has. This means that many of the undesirable side effects that the combined pill brings with it like mood swings will be on a smaller scale with the vaginal ring.
It’s a very safe option for women looking for an alternative to the pill. Another great thing about the vaginal ring is that it’s one size fits all, meaning you won’t need a doctor to fit it, unlike IUDs or contraceptive implants. While you might get some light spotting and breast tenderness while using the vaginal ring (as you might with the pill), many women have reported getting lighter periods and clearer skin while using it too. As with any kind of birth control, you need to assess with your doctor what type of contraception is best for you based on your health and medical history. However, if you’ve had trouble dealing with the pill and you’d like to try an alternative, the vaginal ring could be the right option for you.
It doesn’t protect against STDs. Although the vaginal ring has a lot of great things going for it, it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and infections, so be sure to remember to use a condom!
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