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Facts About...


What is it?

The vaginal ring is a non-latex, soft, bendable, clear plastic ring that is placed into the woman’s vagina. It releases two hormones, progestin and estrogen. The hormones stop the ovaries from releasing an egg and fertilization cannot occur. The vaginal ring stays in place for 3 weeks and then on week 4 it is removed; this is the week in which a woman will have her period.

How effective is it?

The ring is 91% to 99.7% effective at preventing pregnancy, when used properly and on a regular basis.

What are the side effects associated with this method?

Headache, nausea and breast soreness are the most common reported side effects. Most side effects disappear with continued use. Local side effects such as vaginal discharge and irritation may occur. Women over the age of 35 who smoke or have high blood pressure should consult their health care provider as the ring increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, or blood clots.

What are the benefits?

Benefits of the ring may include: preventing pregnancy, more regular periods with less bleeding and cramping, decreased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, decreased acne and endometriosis. Use of the vaginal ring does not require daily attention yet provides a reliable method of birth control. It is completely reversible allowing a woman to quickly return to a fertile state when use of the ring is stopped.

What are the limitations?

A woman must visit a health care provider to get a prescription for the vaginal ring. Using this method requires the woman to be comfortable inserting and removing the ring on her own. The vaginal ring is not recommended for women with a personal history of blood clots, stroke or heart disease, or those with high blood pressure, severe migraines, cancer of the breast, endometrium or cervix or liver tumour. If you are a smoker, using the vaginal ring can increase your risk of a serious blood clot, heart attack and stroke.

What are the effects on breastfeeding?

Estrogen may reduce breast milk supply. It is recommended that breastfeeding mothers use progestin only types of birth control. If you are currently breastfeeding and would like to discuss birth control options, please talk to your health care provider.

What you should know...

The ring-free interval should never be more than 7 days. If it is inserted late you must ensure you use condoms to protect from pregnancy. The ring does not prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS; therefore condoms should always be used during sexual activity.

Contact your health care provider immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms: sudden and severe chest pain/heaviness, sudden and severe abdominal pain, leg pain, and trouble breathing/shortness of breath, severe headaches or visual problems.


August 11, 2015