Newer and better forms of birth control have entered the market, courtesy of research and increasing demand. The latest effective birth control for women to enter the market is the vaginal ring, which is safe, easy to use, and effective.
How does this birth control ring work?
Once inserted into the vagina, the ring slowly releases estrogen and progestogen into the woman’s bloodstream. This prevents the egg from releasing every month. It also thins the lining in the womb, which reduces the chances of an egg making a home there. Lastly, it can also thicken the cervical mucus, making it difficult for the sperm to enter the cervix or move through it.
When can you start using it?
You can use it at any time during your menstrual cycle
You can use it for 21 days and then remove it for the next seven days. The effects of the ring will keep you safe from pregnancy during your ring-free week.
You can insert it even on the first day of your period to prevent pregnancy.
If you are using it at any other point of time in your menstrual cycle, you need to use additional contraceptives such as a condom in the seven days at least to prevent pregnancy.
How to use the ring?
It may seem a little difficult at first, but the process to insert the ring is simple. Clean your hands, and gently squeeze the ring between your pointer finger and thumb. Next, insert the tip of the squeezed ring into your vagina. Keep pushing it gently into your vagina till it starts to feel comfortable. You can feel the ring using your fingers to ensure that it is in place.
To remove the ring, hook a clean finger around the ring and gently pull it out. Dispose of it in the special bag provided with the ring.
Seek the assistance of a doctor or nurse if you are finding it difficult to place the ring in your vagina, if there is bleeding or pain while removing it, or if you are unable to remove it.
What to do when the ring comes out on its own?
Although it happens rarely, the ring may come out during or after sex, or if it wasn’t inserted correctly. The next steps depend on where you’re on your menstrual cycle and for how long has the ring been out.
• If the ring has been out of your body for less than three hours, then you can rinse it with lukewarm or cold water and insert it again as soon as you can. No additional contraception is needed regardless of where you are on your menstrual cycle.
• If you are in your 1st or 2nd week of the menstrual cycle and the ring has been out for more than three hours, rinse it with lukewarm or cold water, reinsert it. You will need to use additional contraceptive measures such as a condom for the next seven days, and if you have had sex in the last few days, you will need to take an emergency contraceptive such as a pill.
• If you’re on your 3rd week and the ring has been out for more than three hours, you can choose to do one of two things:
i. Insert an altogether new ring. You may experience spotting but not a period-like bleed.
Start your ring-free seven days. You will experience period-type bleed. If you are choosing this option, then you have to put in a new ring within seven days of the previous one coming out.
Regardless of which of the two alternatives you choose, you will need to use additional contraception for the next seven days, and if you have had sex in the last few days, you will need emergency contraception.
What to do if you forget to insert a new ring?
Avoid panicking and insert a new ring as soon as you remember. Use additional contraception along with the ring for the next seven days.
Use emergency contraception if you had sex before you remembered and inserted the ring plus if it has been more than two days in addition to your seven days of ring-free interval.
Is it safe to use the ring for all women?
If you have any of the following, using such a ring is unadvisable:
i. Diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years
iii. Experience migraines with aura warning symptoms
iv. High blood pressure
v. Heart problems
vi. Circulatory problems
vii. Above 35 years and a smoker or have ceased smoking only in the past one year
viii. Take medicines which could interact with the ring
You can use the ring until you are 50 years old if you do not smoke, and have no medical condition that prevents you from using it.
To decide if using a ring as a birth control mechanism is apt for you, consult your gynaecologist or general physician. They will explain the pros and cons of the method keeping in mind your medical history and other factors such as last pregnancy. Ultimately, it is your comfort and quality of life that needs to be paramount when you choose a contraception method.