About the Vaginal Ring
What is the vaginal ring?
And you are wondering what a ring has got to do with the vagina. Well, a whole lot! Just as there are different ways of preventing conception by a woman, the vaginal ring is one of them. It is not the metal ring you are familiar with. It is plastic. It is soft. It is flexible. It is ‘worn on’ the vagina. It is hormone-based.
How does the vaginal ring work?
The vaginal ring is commonly called NuvaRing, a brand name, though. It is two inches deep. It contains reproductive hormones. Normally, a woman who is sexually matured needs these two hormones – progesterone and estrogen – to produce matured ova (eggs) every sexual or reproductive cycle.
A reproductive cycle represents the changes a woman undergoes in her reproductive organs – uterus (womb), ovaries, ova, fallopian tubes, cervix, breasts, vagina, etc. This cycle varies from women to women. Some can be as short as every 24 days and some can be as long as every 36 days. The essence of the cycle is to prepare a woman to conceive.
Back to the two hormones, I am interested in – progesterone and estrogen – they are what is in the vaginal ring. For a woman to produce matured eggs from which the only one will be released in every cycle, a certain amount of these two hormones must be released into the blood. These hormones will then be transported to the ovaries where they will induce a certain amount of eggs to begin to grow. Only one egg will eventually grow to maturity and released for fertilization.
So how does the vaginal ring prevent pregnancy if they are actually responsible for bringing about the release of a matured egg every reproductive cycle?
It releases more than the normal concentrations of these two hormones continuously. Because of their high concentration, the ovum will not be released – there will be no ovulation. Ovulation is the release of that matured egg once in every reproductive cycle. That, therefore, means there will be no egg for the sperm to fertilize.
Two, their high concentrations will make the fluid normally released by the cervix to become thick. Sperms can only travel to meet the egg in the fallopian tube when the fluid is thin. Fertilization of an egg and sperm occurs in the fallopian tube. This will mean that the sperms will not have the chance to get to the fallopian tubes.
Using a vaginal ring means you will neither menstruate nor ovulate so long as it is there in your vagina.
How to use the vaginal ring?
In spite of the very high effectiveness of our NuvaRing when properly worn, there is still some 9% risk of disappointments. These disappointments are pregnancies! CDCP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported so!
These drugs can bring about these disappointments – antiepileptic drugs, HIV drugs (although not all), St. John’s wort, rifampin (an antibiotic drug)
If you use any of these medications, then it is important that you have a backup form of birth control.
Risks associated with the use of the vaginal ring
Yes, it is very safe for use. Just that it might increase your chances of having blood clots. Any contraceptive that adopts the hormonal method, patches, or pills has this peculiarity. Because of the high possibility of your blood-forming clots, you might suffer a heart attack, a stroke, an embolism of the lungs, and a thrombosis of veins.
If you are above 35 years and you smoke, then you have a high risk. It is not advisable you use any contraceptive that has estrogen. Talk to your doctor.
Various contraceptives exist. You only need to decide which one you want to use. Your choice will be determined by whether you are done with having the number of children you want or whether you need it for child spacing. Your doctor will help you out.
Most times, you might have to experiment on different options until you find the one that is most suitable for you. The vaginal ring can just the most perfect one for you. Who knows? But do well to walk the walk with your doctor.
But should you be considering using NuvaRing, it is not difficult to use at all. Neither is it with many side effects when placed side by side with other contraceptives, particularly oral contraceptives. You can also trust its high effectiveness. Plus, you will have short and less heavy menstrual flow.
- Tenderness of the breast
- Irritation of the vagina
- Vaginal infection
- Spotting between periods
- Risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections as it is not immune to it.
Ifiokobong Ene is a Medical Physiologist, and a freelance medical writer. Ifiok brings his years of medical research experience to help consistently create high-quality, and engaging articles and products that uphold the highest medical standards. He is dedicated to making health and wellness information available, actionable, and understandable so that readers can make the best decisions about their health.