You want spontaneity in your sex life: try the vaginal ring
For a lay couple in the Indian context, contraceptive options speak of condoms, oral pills, or intrauterine contraceptive devices. Other options, such as injectables, are slowly gaining popularity. However, in America and Europe a revolutionary contraceptive option has emerged, that is, the vaginal ring. It is a form of birth control for women that can be inserted internally for three weeks and then removed to allow for a week of menstruation. It is a flexible (latex-free) ring that is discreet, usually undetectable only by the user, and allows for more spontaneous and relaxed intercourse. The vaginal ring also alleviates the concern associated with contraceptives such as the IUD that the product may ascend into the uterus, since the cervix prevents the ring from entering the uterus.
How does it work?
For ease of understanding, the vaginal ring works much like regular birth control pills. The mode of action of the vaginal ring is as follows:
- It releases estrogen and progestin, the two hormones naturally produced by your body, into the bloodstream, thereby preventing ovulation (an ovary releasing a monthly egg).
- The vaginal ring prevents sperm from entering the uterus by thickening the cervical mucus. Therefore, it provides protection in two steps.
How effective is it?
When used correctly, the ring is found to be more effective than an oral contraceptive pill for childbirth (99%+). Although you would need to consult with a healthcare professional regarding its proper use and disposal.
When do I start wearing the ring?
If you are using the ring for the first time, insert it between the first and fifth day of your period, even if your bleeding has not stopped. Count the first day of your period as day one. You must use a condom during each sexual act for the first seven days during the first cycle of the ring.
When do I take off the ring?
Take the ring out three weeks after insertion, at about the same time of day, if possible. Place it in the foil sachet it was originally packaged in and throw it away. Contraceptive protection continues during the ring-free week. Exactly seven days after removing the old ring, insert a new one. It is recommended to insert and remove it at the same time each month.
Who can not wear the ring?
Women with high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and migraines with aura or neurological symptoms should not use the ring or consult their doctor to determine eligibility.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
HAS – Abdominal pain (severe)
VS- Chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood
H- Headache (severe), numbness or weakness in arms or legs
me- Eye problems (vision loss, blurred vision, flashing lights)
The vaginal ring can benefit a patient in several ways:
- birth control once a month (as opposed to a daily pill)
- very discreet and private; no one can see it or know you are wearing it.
- Easily reversible – No waiting period. Ovulation returns quickly when the ring is stopped.
- Like a birth control patch, low-dose hormones are continuously and evenly absorbed into the bloodstream, minimizing side effects.
- Thickened cervical mucus helps decrease the risk of pelvic inflammatory infections.
- Decreased risk of developing ovarian cysts
- Decreased risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancer
- Vomiting and diarrhea should not interfere with the effectiveness of the ring.
- Shorter and lighter periods (lower risk of developing anemia)
- Decrease in premenstrual symptoms (usually)
Are there any side effects?
The thing to keep in mind is that it is a form of hormonal birth control option and like other forms of birth control that contain hormones, there are side effects to be aware of when using the vaginal ring. They include:
- Possible weight gain, nausea, vomiting, and/or breast tenderness
- humor changes
- spotting between periods
- Possible increased susceptibility to vaginal infections
- Increased menstrual cramps (rare)
More serious, though less common, side effects can include:
- an increased risk of developing blood clots in the legs, heart, lungs, or brain
- an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack
- an increased risk of developing breast cancer
Consult with a doctor to know the real percentage of risk. The possibility of some serious risks is high if a patient is over 35 years old and smokes. Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular complications and is higher when a woman smokes more than 15 cigarettes per day and increases significantly when she is also over 35 years old. Women are advised to stop smoking if they use hormonal contraceptives in any form.
It is important to discuss the benefits versus side effects of the ring with your doctor. Not all patients are good candidates for the vaginal ring. Together, you and your doctor can determine your best option for birth control. So make an informed choice to reap the long-term benefits and enjoy marital bliss without worrying about an unwanted pregnancy!