Deciding on birth control: the birth control ring.

The birth control ring is a very reliable method of birth control.  It sits in the vagina for 3 weeks; you then remove it and you’ll have your period.

Here, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using the birth control ring, so that you can decide whether it might be right for you.

What is the birth control ring?

birth control ringThe ring about 5 cm round.  It is flexible, see-through plastic and contains hormones similar to those in the birth control patch or the combined birth control pill.  These hormones are oestrogen and progesterone – women’s fertility hormones – in levels that work to prevent pregnancy rather than cause it.

They work to prevent pregnancy by:

  • Preventing an egg from being released from the ovary (ovulation)
  • Making the mucus in the cervix thicker so that the sperm cannot get through the cervix to the egg
  • Making the lining of the womb thinner so that any fertilized egg cannot settle (implant) into it.

The tissues around the vagina absorb the hormones so if you vomit or have bad diarrhea it is still effective. This is not that case with the Pill.

How effective is the ring?

It’s a very effective method of birth control.  Less than 1 woman in 100 will get pregnant when they use it properly.  That makes it more than 99% reliable.

How do I use the birth control ring?

The ring is made of flexible plastic so you can squeeze it and put it high into the vagina.  Your healthcare provider will show you the best way to do this.

  1. You put the ring in during day 2 – 5 of your period.  It’s not effective straight
    birth control ring,

    Putting the birth control ring in place.

    away so if you have sex during the next 7 days, you should use a condom.

  2. You leave the ring in place for 3 weeks (mark the dates on your calendar if you need to) and then remove it at the end of the 3rdweek.
  3. You remove it by putting a finger into the vagina and hooking out the ring.
  4. Exactly 1 week after you removed the ring you replace it with another and repeat the cycle.
  5. You should check the ring is in place regularly during the 3 weeks it’s in place.

What are the advantages of the ring?

  • There are no pills to remember to take.
  • If you have vomiting or bad diarrhea the ring is still effective.
  • It’s easy to use when you’ve been shown how to use it.
  • No need for messy spermicides creams etc.

What are the disadvantages of the ring?

Your partner may be able to feel the ring when it’s in place.

It will not protect you against sexually transmitted infections. You will need to use condoms for disease prevention.

Occasionally the ring falls out.  If this happens, wash it in cool water and put it back in place in the vagina.   This should be done within 3 hours.  If it gets lost then replace it

Use condoms for disease prevention.

with another ring within 3 hours.

Occasionally the ring breaks when it’s in the vagina.  If this happens you should remove it and replace it with another one.

Is the ring right for me?

If you want a birth control method that you don’t have to think about before you have sex, or a pill to remember every day, then the ring may suit you.

Not all women can take hormone birth control such as the ring, patch or combined birth control pill because of other health problems or family health problems.  Your prescriber will discuss these issues with you.

What are the side effects of the birth control ring?

The most common side effects are:

  • Headache
  • Sore vagina
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Some women have spotting between periods.
  • These side effects may settle.  About 5% of women experience these problems.

Find out more:

In the UK see www.fpa.org.uk

In the US see www.plannedparenthood.org

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