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NuvaRing – The Contraceptive Vaginal Ring

The NuvaRing is a ringshaped contraceptive device for women that gradually releases hormones into the bloodstream protecting from unwanted pregnancy. The flexible plastic ring is made of an ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer and measures 2 inches (5cm) in diameter. It is marketed by Merck pharmaceuticals and has been available in the UK since 2001. The NuvaRing is used by about 1.5 million women worldwide.

How does it work?

NuvaRing contains the synthetic versions of two naturally occuring female sex hormones controling the monthly menstrual cycle. They are called etonogestrel and ethinylestradiol. NuvaRing is a combined contraceptive containing two active ingredients, which makes it similar in its effect to the combined oral contraceptive pill as well as the contraceptive Evra patch. The hormones are released into the bloodstream continuously via the vaginal walls. Therefore, the hormone dosage can be much lower than for example in the Pill or the Patch.

The woman’s natural menstrual cycle is overridden and ovulation is inhibited. Furthermore, the hormones change the consistency of the mucus in the cervix (neck of the womb), which makes it harder for sperm to get through the cervix, as well as the quality of the womb linig, which would make it more difficult for an egg to implant in the unlikely event that an egg was released and subsequently fertilised.

NuvaRingPrices from £68.75 for 3 months supply

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How should I use the NuvaRing?

The NuvaRing has been designed to be used over a four week cycle consisting of three weeks of use followed by a seven day break, just like the combined contraceptive pill or the Evra patch. Insert the NuvaRing into the vagina on the first day of the monthly cycle, i.e. the first day of your period. Protection against pregnancy will be immediate. You can start treatment with the NuvaRing on day 2 to 5 of your period, however in this case you will need to use alternative means of non-hormonal contraception such as condoms od diaphragms for the first week.

The ring stays in place for three consecutive weeks before you remove it followed by a seven day ring-free interval. Due to the sudden drop of the hormone levels during this time, a withdrawal bleed will occur which is similar to a normal menstrual period. Generally it will be lighter and shorter though. After the seven day break, insert a new ring – the ring change day will always be the same day of the week. If inserted correctly, neither you nor your sexual partner should not be able to feel the ring. It is therefore important that you regularly check whether it is still in place as it may be expulsed unnoticedly during intercourse, when removing a tampon or strenuous bowel movement.

If it has come out and you notice this within three hours, rinse the NuvaRing under cool running water before reinserting it – no further contraceptive precautions are necessary. If the ring has been out for more then three hours (during the first two weeks of your cycle), protection from unwanted pregnancy is no longer guaranteed. Reinsert the ring as soon as possible and use additional non-hormonal contraception for the next seven days.

If the NuvaRing comes out for more than three hours during the third week of your cycle, discard it and then either have your seven day break before inserting a new ring (this will change your ring change day to a different day of the week) bearing in mind you will need to use additional contraception for the first week of wearing the ring or insert a new ring straight away skipping the seven day ring-free interval.

If you forget to remove your NuvaRing, remove it and have your seven day ring-free break as normal provided the ring did not stay in for longer than four weeks.

If the same ring has been worn for more than four weeks, take a test to rule out pregnancy before inserting a new NuvaRing and use alternative non-hormonal contraception for the first seven days.

NuvaRing Precautions

The contraceptive vaginal ring is a very convenient, non-invasive and effective form of contraception, however you should bear in mind that it does not offer any protection against STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Combined hormonal contraceptives of this kind increase the risk of potentially fatal blood clots in the legs (Deep Vein Thrombosis) or lungs (Pulmonary Embolism), especially if you are a smoker, obese or over the age of 35.

The NuvaRing is not to be used or kept during pregnancy or breastfeeding. You will need to wait for at least six months after birth or weaning before you can start or resume your treatment with the NuvaRing. If you have diabetes or hypertension, the contraceptive ring may not be suitable and you should refrain from using it if breast cancer or other forms of cancer, stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases run within your family.

Please ensure you inform your prescribing doctor of all medicines you currently take as well as of any other medical details that may be relevant before seeking a prescription for the NuvaRing to ensure the product is suitable for you and does not interfere with any other medicines.

Potential Side Effects of the NuvaRing

Most women find the NuvaRing very easy to use and do not experience any majpr problems. Most side effects are mild and temporary, however in the unlikely event that you experience a severe reaction or side effect while using NuvaRing, remove the device and seek medical advice. Some of the most common side effects of the contraceptive vaginal ring are:

  • Vaginal infection
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Weight gain
  • Genital itching
  • Acne
  • Mood swings or depression

Please refer to the patient leaflet for the full list of common and uncommon side effects that have been linked to this pharmaceutical to date.


Reviews for NuvaRing

fiddley but better

Reviewed by annon on .

I kept missing pills having to take extra and once or twice the morning after pill. Eventually I asked if there was any alternative and the doctor suggested this insertion. It takes a little to get used to but its prooved much better for me as I could never remember to take the pill every day. Also as my new boyfriend has never seen me take anything he uses a condom too as he thinks I'm not on a contraceptive

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