The NuvaRing is the only contraceptive ring approved by the FDA (2001). It is a two inch diameter ring that is worn in the vagina for 3 weeks. The ring contains a combination of hormones similar to what is found in oral contraceptives or patches. The ring releases ethinyl estradiol 0.015 mg/day and etonogestrel 0.12 mg/day. Its advantage is that one ring lasts 3 weeks and is then removed for one week before inserting another one. The menstrual period will usually occur during the week when the ring isn’t being worn.
HOW DOES THE RING WORK?
The mechanism of action, contraceptive benefits, non-contraceptive benefits, side-effects and effectiveness is equivalent to most oral contraceptives and patches. The only real difference is that the hormones are absorbed directly through the vaginal lining (mucosa) into the blood stream without having to be taken orally or by a skin patch.
ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS OF USING NUVARING?
The real benefit is that it is very discreet and private (unlike a patch) and requires only once a month administration (unlike a pill). Insertion and removal of the ring require that a woman insert her finger inside the vagina and therefore she must be comfortable touching her genitals and vagina. Like the oral contraceptive and patch, the contraceptive ring does not offer any protection against any of the sexually transmitted diseases. If for any reason, the ring is removed or slips out, it may be rinsed in cool water and reinserted. If it is out for three hours or more, there will be reduced contraceptive protection and an alternative method of birth control must be used until the ring has been in place for seven consecutive days. Emergency contraception is available if it is out three hours or longer.