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Home » Medical » Contraception » The Vaginal Ring

The Vaginal Ring

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The vaginal ring is a new and highly effective birth control method that is now available in Canada. The vaginal ring is a highly effective method of birth control when it is used exactly as directed. The ring failure rate is the same as that of birth control pills. Only about 3 out of 1,000 women who use the ring exactly as directed for a year will become pregnant.

The ring is thought to be as effective as oral contraceptives. The first time the vaginal ring is used, it is inserted during the first five days of menstruation. A woman should use a backup method for the first week, because the ring is not effective until after seven days of continuous use (unless already using another hormonal method).

Common side-effects include yeast infection, vaginal discharge or irritation, upper respiratory tract infection, sinus infection, weight gain, and nausea. Other side-effects include headache, irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, mood changes, and the unpleasant sensation of having a foreign body in the vagina.

Advantages of Vaginal Ring

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Can be placed anywhere in the vagina.


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Frequently causes more regular, lighter, and shorter periods.


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Helps prevent menstrual cramping and premenstrual symptoms as well as headaches and depression.


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Is quickly reversible.


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May enhance sex because you don't have to worry about pregnancy.


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May protect against medical problems such as ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), cysts, and cancer of the ovaries and of the uterus).


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Means you don't have to do anything at the time of sexual intercourse.


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Must be inserted only once each month.


Disadvantages of Vaginal Ring

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As with other forms of combined hormonal contraception, the ring slightly increases your risk of blood clots, especially if you are 35 or older and smoke.


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The ring could slip out. If it does, you must replace it within three hours.


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The ring does not provide any protection from STIs, including HIV. If there is any risk of infection, always use a condom as well.


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The ring may cause increased spotting, breast tenderness, nausea and vomiting, and mood swings. These usually clear up within about three months after beginning use of the ring


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The ring may cause vaginal irritation or infection and increased vaginal discharge.


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You must remember to insert a new ring on the same day one week after you removed the old ring.


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You must remember to keep the ring in place for three weeks and then to remove it three weeks to the day after you inserted it.


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You must wash your hands with soap and water prior to inserting the ring.


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You must wrap the ring in foil and throw it in the trash. It must not be flushed.