So you want to talk about… the NuvaRing

the vaginal ring contraception
It’s probably one of contraception’s less used options. Right now, the coil or the pill seem like the most popular options, but what about the NuvaRing? You’ve probably heard of it, but have you ever considered using it?

Here, The Lowdown tells you all you need to know about the Ring.

What is a NuvaRing?

The vaginal ring, or the NuvaRing, is made of a type of plastic unable to dissolve in the body. You place it inside your vagina and it then releases a dose of oestrogen and progestogen into the bloodstream in order to prevent pregnancy. It kind of resembles a glowstick, but obviously, without the glow (although that would be strangely awesome).

If used correctly, the effectiveness of a NuvaRing is more than 99%. One ring provides contraception for a month so you don’t need to think about it every day. If you’re someone who forgets taking the pill every day, then this one might be for you.  

How can I get a NuvaRing?

Okay, so you’ve decided you want to try out the NuvaRing. You can get the ring at your local GP practice (some don’t do it though so do double check), contraception clinics, some young people services or sexual health or GUM clinics. This all depends on how old you are as some clinics only offer services up to a certain age.

You will have to make an appointment with your GP or sexual health nurse and they will conduct some tests to make sure you can have it. Bear in mind the NuvaRing may not be suitable for you if you; take medicines that interact with the ring, have had a blood clot, have high blood pressure, are overweight, had diabetes or are 35 plus and smoke.

If you’ve had breast cancer within the last five years or suffer with migraines, then your GP may advise you try something else.

Inserting a NuvaRing

So you’ve now picked up your first NuvaRing and I bet you’re thinking how on earth am I going to get it in?! The placement of the NuvaRing is similar to fitting a tampon or period cup. It can be a bit tricky and fiddly but once it’s in it should stay in place.

Here are your NuvaRing instructions:

First things first, wash your hands. Squeeze the ring between your thumb and insert it into your vagina. Push in until it feels comfortable and secure – similar to how a tampon feels. According to the NHS, unlike the diaphragm or cap, the ring does not need to cover the entrance to the womb to work.

You can start using it at any time during your menstrual cycle providing you are not pregnant. If you fit it on the first day of our cycle, you will be protected from pregnancy right away. If you fit it at any other time in your cycle then you will need to use condoms for seven days or avoid having penetrative sex.

You can also get the NuvaRing 21 days after giving birth or immediately after having an abortion or miscarriage. If you are breastfeeding a baby six months old or less, you should not use the ring as it could reduce your flow of milk.

Your GP or nurse will provide you with no more than three rings so you should only need to get more every three months. After 21 one days, remove the ring and have a seven-day ring-free break, like with the combined pill. In this break you may bleed.

Advantages to a NuvaRing

The NuvaRing should not interrupt sex

It is easy to insert and remove

You don’t have to think about it everyday

If you are sick or throw up, then it won’t stop you from being protected

It may help with pre-menstrual symptoms

Period-type bleeding can become lighter, more regular and less painful

It can have additional health benefits which include reducing the risk of some cancers

It has no long-term effect on your fertility

Disadvantages of a NuvaRing

Sometimes, the ring can fall out during sex or at other times of the month.

You may not feel comfortable inserting or removing it

For the first few months, you might have some spotting or bleeding

It may cause temporary side effects which can include increased vaginal discharge, headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes

It does not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases

You need to remember to change it

Some medicines might make it less effective

What does The Lowdown say?

We have thousands of NuvaRing reviews to read from at The Lowdown, good and bad. It’s ultimately up to you to make your decision on what is best for you, but here is what our reviewers had to say.

When it comes to NuvaRing side effects, more than half (60%) said it did not affect their mood in any way. Around 10 per cent said it negatively effected it and the same amount said it made a positive impact.

 

“It’s a great contraception and it worked perfectly for the first two years, but I started having a lot of headaches and dark spots on my face after that.”

“Loss of sex drive was the only side effect I had. But, the NuvaRing affects me much less than any other birth control I have tried.”

“I absolutely loved the NuvaRing. As a college athlete, I had a busy schedule and my schedule varies a lot day-to-day, so being able to leave the ring in for three weeks at a time without worry was amazing. I didn’t experience any side effects beyond my normal period moodiness and cramps. I was able to leave the ring in during sex without too much interference and didn’t have any issues with discomfort. I developed a blood clot almost five years after being on the ring. It couldn’t be determined whether the clot was related to hormonal birth control or not…”

“Pros: lighter periods, really regular. Cons: Breast pain, I felt discomfort every time I groped my breasts.”

“This contraception is the best I have tried. I have been on the pill and patches before trying the ring and I would never go back now. For someone who is quite forgetful this is the best solution, it is as simple as putting in a non-applicator tampon, it stays there for three weeks – your partner will feel it during intercourse but I haven’t had any complaints!”

This guide was brought to you by The Lowdown. We are the world’s first contraception review platform, providing real-life experiences from thousands of reviews collected from our community of men and women.

Why not leave us a review of your contraceptive experience? Whether you’ve got good things to say about the Mirena coil or had trouble with implant removal, we want to hear about it! Tell us about your experience and help people around the world find the right method for them.