The Ring

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Easy to insert, works like the pill, keeps you protected for a month at a time

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The ring is a small, bendable ring that is inserted into your vagina. It works by releasing hormones that prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg every month and by thickening your cervical mucus to block sperm from getting to an egg. There are two types of rings available, NuvaRing and Annovera. NuvaRing is a disposable ring that is thrown away after 3 weeks. Annovera is a reusable ring that is inserted for 3 weeks at a time.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Might give you shorter, lighter periods
  • May clear up acne
  • Can reduce menstrual cramps and PMS
  • Offers protection against some health problems like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency, anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Can be used with some barrier methods
Cons
  • Doesn’t protect against STIs, including HIV
  • Requires an initial prescription
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased vaginal discharge, irritation, or infection
  • May change your sex drive

How to Use

The ring is pretty easy to use, but you must be comfortable with touching your body since you will need to put your fingers inside your body every time you use it. It might take some time getting used to. For NuvaRing, you will insert the ring and leave it in for 3 weeks. You can take it out on the fourth week and you will most likely get your period. Or you can leave it in for the fourth week and skip your period. Skipping your period is completely safe! If you decide to skip your period, make sure you take out the ring at the end of the week and put in a new ring. You can keep NuvaRing in your refrigerator if you plan on storing it for more than 4 months.

Annovera is similar to the NuvaRing, but it has enough hormones to be reused for 1 year. You will insert the ring and leave it in for 3 weeks. On the fourth week, you will take it out, wash it, and then store it for 7 days. With Annovera there is no need to store it in a refrigerator. Annovera ring has not been approved yet for skipping your period. You don’t need to take the ring out when you’re having sex, but you can if you want to. Just make sure to put it back in within 3 hours, and only do this once out of every 24 hours.

Effort

The ring takes some discipline and planning. For the NuvaRing, it needs to be inserted once for 3 weeks then removed for 1 week. For Annovera, it needs to be taken out every 3 weeks and washed.

Effectiveness

The ring is really effective when used perfectly, but many find it challenging to use it perfectly. With perfect use, it is 99% effective, but with typical use it is 91% effective.

Side Effects

The ring uses a lower dose of hormones than other methods, so there’s less of a chance of negative side effects. Side effects with the ring may include bleeding in between periods, breast tenderness, nausea and vomiting. But usually these side effects are temporary while your body adjusts to new hormones. Other side effects that might last a little longer increased vaginal discharge, irritation, or infection, and may even change your sex drive. If you are still feeling uncomfortable after 3 months, talk to your healthcare provider about switching methods. If you are over 35 and a smoker, you have an increased chance for certain side effects.

Pregnancy

You will be able to become pregnant as soon as you stop using the ring. If you stop using the ring and are not ready for become pregnant, use another method right away.

How to Get

The ring requires a prescription from a healthcare provider. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, find a family planning clinic near you.

Cost

You may qualify for free or discounted costs. To find out if you qualify, find a healthcare provider near you.


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