Nowadays there are a lot of kinds of contraception. The most popular of them are barrier and hormonal methods. Hormonal contraceptives have become widespread due to reliable protection from an unwanted pregnancy and easy usage. They differ in composition (one or two hormones), and in the method of administration (pills, injections, patches, etc.). Today we are going to talk about a type of modern contraceptives which is birth control ring.
What Is a Birth Control Ring?
The birth control ring is a hormonal contraceptive medication which includes micro doses of estrogen and progestogen hormones.
The contraceptive is a small flexible ring (about 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter), made of hypoallergenic material. After the insertion into the vagina, the ring releases micro doses of hormones daily. This mechanism of action is achieved through a complex system of membranes which form a birth control ring.
The contraceptive effect, like that of other hormonal drugs, is the suppression of ovulation. In addition, hormones increase the density of mucus in the cervix, thus preventing the penetration of spermatozoa.
The main advantage of the birth control ring is the absence of a primary passage of hormones through the gastrointestinal tract and liver. It significantly reduces the risk of side-effects in comparison with other hormonal drugs.
In addition to the contraceptive effect, the drug also positively affects the menstrual cycle, making it more regular and less painful.
It is important to remember that the birth control ring doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases! Therefore, this method of contraception is suitable for women who have one permanent sexual partner. Both of the partners should not have sexual infections.
Composition and Principle of Action
The cover of the contraceptive ring consists of an anti-allergic material. There is a minimum dose of two female sex hormones (estrogen and progestogen) under the membrane of the ring. This dose is less than that of any of the birth control pills.
When the birth control ring is inserted into the vagina its membrane adjusts to the temperature of the human body. Then it becomes permeable for the hormones enclosed inside the ring. The hormones directly affect the uterus and the ovaries. The other organs remain outside the sphere of influence of the hormones.
The doses of hormones in the ring are enough to suppress the maturation of the egg and its release from the ovary. As a result, the onset of pregnancy becomes impossible.
The Pros of the Birth Control Ring
- Reliability and high effectiveness of contraceptive action.
- It’s simple in use: replacement is required only once a month.
- The organism undergoes minimal influence of hormones due to their low dosage.
- Hormones function only locally, without exerting unnecessary stress on the liver, stomach, and intestines.
- Birth control ring doesn’t affect the weight of a woman.
- The regularity of the menstrual cycle restores (if it has been disturbed). Menstruation becomes less painful.
- The use of birth control ring reduces the risk of cancer of the ovaries and the uterus.
- Birth control ring provides a full, natural, harmonious sexual life.
- Rapid recovery of ovulation and fertility (within 4-5 weeks after the removal of the hormonal ring).
- A woman can use a birth control ring in secret: the partner will not feel the presence of the ring in the vagina.
The Cons of this Contraception Method
There are 3 main factors:
- The method of protection is psychologically unaccustomed.
- A fairly extensive list of contraindications.
- Birth control ring, like other hormonal contraceptives, does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS (HIV infection).
Birth control rings are not used in the presence of the following conditions:
- Hypersensitivity to the components of the ring;
- Venous disorders (thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, and others) or a predisposition to such diseases;
- Malignant tumors of various organs;
- Severe diseases of the pancreas and liver;
- Bleeding of an unclear nature from the vagina;
- Present or planned pregnancy.
A complete list of contraindications can be found in the instructions to the medication. Therefore, if a woman has any of these diseases or a predisposition to them, then before using the ring, she should estimate the possible risks and benefits from the use of the birth control ring. Perhaps it will be better to use another method of contraception.
How to Insert the Birth Control Ring?
For the insertion of the ring, a woman should choose a comfortable position. The ring can be inserted while the woman is standing, lying down, or in a squatting position.
The ring should be squeezed and inserted into the vagina. After that, the ring itself will take the desired shape, depending on the individual characteristics of a woman’s body structure.
To remove the ring, you need to squeeze the ring with two fingers (index and middle) and pull it out of the vagina.
The action of one birth control ring is calculated for the time of one menstrual cycle. The ring located inside the vagina is removed on the 22nd day after the insertion. In order not to lose balance, remember: remove the ring on the same day of the week in which it was inserted (if you insert it on Wednesday – remove in three weeks on Wednesday, on Friday – pull out in three weeks on Friday). It is better, of course, to note in advance the day of insertion and the date of removal in the calendar.
After removing the ring, a 7-days break is necessary. On the 8th day, you can insert a new ring.
If a woman hasn’t previously used hormonal contraceptives, the birth control ring is inserted, as it’s been mentioned above, between the 1st and the 5th day of menstruation (not later than the 5th day).
If a woman starts using birth control ring after taking the combined hormonal pills she should insert the ring after a one-week break (the day when the intake of pills from the new package should have begun).
Despite the local release of hormones, side-effects when using birth control ring are possible.
- Reactions of the digestive system – nausea, sometimes abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting.
- Reactions of the central nervous system – dizziness, headache, mood swings, feelings of anxiety.
- Endocrine system reactions – a change in body weight (may be an increase or decrease in weight), swelling of the mammary glands, a decrease in libido (sexual desire), disruption of the menstrual cycle.
- Reactions of the female genital organs (for example, vaginal inflammation).
- Reactions of the urinary system – cystitis and other inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract.
- Local reactions – feeling of a foreign object inside of the vagina, spontaneous dropout of the ring.
The Use of Birth Control Ring During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
If a woman wants to get pregnant she should stop using the ring and wait for the recovery of the menstrual cycle. As a rule, pregnancy is possible in 1-2 months.
The use of the contraceptive ring during lactation is undesirable. The composition of the medication can affect lactation, reduce the amount and change the composition of breast milk.
If a woman finds out that she is pregnant she should remove the ring because it doesn’t blend well with the pregnancy.
The Peculiarities of Using Contraceptive Rings
The birth control ring doesn’t affect the sensitivity and sexual attraction of a woman. It is not felt during sex. The ring is made of a material widely used in medicine for the production of implants, so it doesn’t harm the body even after prolonged use.
The insertion of a contraceptive ring isn’t more difficult than the insertion of an ordinary tampon. If there is discomfort, then a woman should try to push the ring deeper to the cervix.
To extract the ring, just insert your index finger into the vagina, pick up the ring, and slowly pull it out. If a woman has long nails it is better to use a rubber glove when inserting and removing the ring.
If the birth control ring accidentally falls out of the vagina you should rinse the contraceptive with cold water and insert it back within three hours. Then its effectiveness will not decrease.
A woman should make the final decision about the use of a birth control ring only after consulting a gynecologist.