What is Nuvaring?
Nuvaring is a type of hormonal contraception. It uses a combination of the hormones oestrogen and progestin in the forms of etonogestrel and estradol.
Oestrogen and Progestin are both found in most combined oral contraceptive pills (COCs), but rather than being ingested, Nuvaring sits inside the vagina, similar to how a tampon would.
How does Nuvaring work?
Nuvring works by releasing a constant, low dose of hormones into the body, meaning that you don’t need to remember to take a pill every day. The hormones work together to do two things:
- Thickens the cervical mucus
- Thins the lining of the womb
These two changes help to prevent pregnancy, as sperm will find it difficult to get through the thick cervical mucus to penetrate an egg, whilst thinning the lining of the womb makes sure that even if an egg gets fertilised, it won’t be able to stick to the womb lining.
Because of this, Nuvaring is around 99% effective, just like the pill.
Why should I use Nuvaring?
Nuvaring is a fantastic option for contraception for women that don’t want to become pregnant, and also struggle to remember to take a pill every day. It has an advantage over contraceptive pills as you only need to change the ring once a month, rather than remembering to take medication each day. It’s also unaffected if you vomit or have diarrhoea, as the hormones don’t have to pass through the stomach.
How do I use Nuvaring?
Some women might be nervous of trying a nuvaring as their main method of contraception, but if you use it correctly, it should be no different to wearing a tampon. Most women don’t even feel the ring inside them for a vast majority of the time.
Each nuvaring needs to be in place for three weeks before removal. This is when you’ll take a 7-day break, just as you would with most combined contraceptive pills.
Try to insert the nuvaring on the first day of your period, as you’ll be protected from pregnancy straight away. If you insert it on any other day of your cycle, you’ll need to use additional methods such as condoms for 7 days.
Before you start, make sure that your hands are completely clean. To insert the nuvaring, get into a comfortable position where you have access to your vagina. Pinch the sides of the ring together, and insert it into your vagina as you would with a tampon. If you can feel the ring, you may not have put it in far enough. Push it further in with your finger.
Your nuvaring shouldn’t be able to get lost inside your body, but if you feel pain after insertion and can’t feel the nuvaring with your fingers, ring 111 as some women have accidentally inserted the ring into their bladders. (This is incredibly rare, so try not to worry and just insert the ring according to the instructions on the patient information leaflet.
After your 7-day break, you should insert a new nuvaring for another three weeks. Never resuse the same contraceptive ring once you’ve taken it out for the 7-day break. It will no longer be effective. Your period may not have ended yet, but you should insert the new ring anyway. It’s completely safe to do so.
You should check regularly that your ring is still in place. It’s unlikely to come out on its own without being fiddled with, but if you do find that it’s slipped out (and it’s been out for less than 3 hours) just rinse the ring and re-insert it. If the ring has been absent for more than three hours, insert a new Nuvaring and use barrier methods for the next seven days.
When the time comes to remove the ring (day 21 of your cycle), just insert a finger into your vagina until you feel the nuvaring. Hook your finger into it and gently pull it out. It shouldn’t be painful at all (like removing a tampon).
Can I use Nuvaring?
Most women can use Nuvaring, especially those that are already using a combined contraceptive and looking to change to another type. However, there are some women that might not be able to use Nuvaring (or other types of combined contraceptives). You should avoid nuvaring if you:
- Are aged 35 or over and a smoker
- Can’t have oestrogen
- Have a history of blood clots
- Have ever had a stroke
- Have ever had a heart attack
- Have high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Have diabetes with kidney, eye, blood vessel or nerve damage
- Suffer with severe migraine headaches
- Have or have ever had liver disease or a liver tumour
- Are taking drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C
- Have had unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Might be pregnant
- Have or have ever had breast cancer
- Have or have ever had cancer that’s sensitive to female hormones such as oestrogen or progestin
- Are allergic to any ingredients in nuvaring
If you have any of the above conditions and would like to start using contraception, please consult your doctor to talk about your options, as there may be other medications you can take to prevent pregnancy. There are also some other drugs that might not agree with Nuvaring and could affect how it works. These include:
- Some antiepileptic medicines
- Some HIV medications
- Grisevofulin (antifungal medicine)
- Some antibiotics such as rifabutin and rifampicin
- St John’s Wort (herbal remedy)
If you need to take any of these medicines whilst using Nuvaring, please speak to your GP as there may be other options available. Alternatively, you can use barrier methods such as condoms whilst you’re using an incompatible treatment.
Don’t use the Nuvaring if you’re already taking hormonal contraceptives as this might cause adverse effects and an overdose of hormones which could prove to be dangerous.
What are the side effects of Nuvaring?
Most hormonal medications carry some side effects, and Nuvaring is unfortunately no exception to the rule. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms associated with using Nuvring are:
- Vaginal infection or abnormal discharge
- Abdominal pain
- Breast pain or tenderness
- Slight bleeding/spotting between breaks
- Lighter periods or no periods at all
- Mood changes
- Vaginal burning, pain, discomfort or dryness
- Change in libido
- Raised blood pressure
- Increased risk of blood clots
Whilst some of these symptoms sound scary, a lot of them are rare, but please contact your GP if you have any concerns or are experiencing any of the above symptoms to a worrying degree.
The good news is that Nuvaring and other hormonal contraceptives can have some positive side effects. Some of these include:
- Prevention of ovarian cysts
- Prevention of cysts in the breasts
- Prevention of an ectopic pregnancy
- Prevention of endometrial and ovarian cancer
- Reduced risk of anaemia
- Reduced symptoms of PMS
- Prevention of infections of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus
Nuvaring may also help to prevent acne as well as regulating periods and relieving menstrual cramps. So the side effects aren’t all bad!
What if I need to use thrush treatments whilst using Nuvaring?
Don’t worry at all. It’s safe to use thrush treatments whilst you’re wearing a Nuvaring as the medication shouldn’t affect how the contraception works. However, please note that some thrush medicines can damage condoms, but your nuvaring is safe.
Can you feel the nuvaring during sex?
There’s a chance that you or your partner might feel the ring during sex, but it shouldn’t be painful. If it feels uncomfortable, it might be worth speaking to your GP about alternative methods of birth control.
What are the alternatives?
Many alternatives are available for contraception. They include:
- Combined oral contraceptives (COCs)
- Progesterone-only pills (POP)
- Nexplanon implant (progesterone-only). This is a small, flexible plastic rod that’s inserted into your arm by a healthcare professional. It lasts 3 years and gives a continuous dose of hormones. Perfect for women that can’t take oestrogen and don’t want to take a pill every day
- Intra-uterine device (IUD). These last for up to 5 years but must be inserted by a healthcare professional
- Hormonal injections (these usually last for 3 months and are administered by a healthcare professional)
Will nuvaring affect my fertility?
Nuvaring shouldn’t affect your fertility. It might take a couple of months for your natural cycle to return to normal when you stop using it, but you may still be able to get pregnant within this time. There’s no evidence to suggest that nuvaring has any impact on long-term fertility.
How is my order shipped to me?
When an order is ready for shipping, it is collected and delivered by either the Royal Mail or DPD depending on your preference (or possibly your location or the item you ordered). Each order is assigned a tracking number, which will be emailed to you at the time of dispatch. Your medicine will be sent in plain and discreet packaging that’s eco-friendly. We do not include any branding on our packaging nor any labels which inform readers what type of product is contained within.
Advice on Addiction and Medication Restrictions
If you are at all worried or concerned about an addiction to any type of medication, we urge you to speak to a professional for help and advice. Below are links to organisations that can help.
Talk To Frank
NHS Help & Advice On Drug Addiction