Vaginal Ring Birth Control: Can You Use This Contraception Method?

    Updated 14 April 2020 |
    Published 30 August 2018
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    The vaginal ring is kind of an exotic method when it comes to birth control. Let’s find out whether you can use this contraception method and learn how it influences your body to prevent pregnancy.

    Who can use a vaginal ring?

    A small flexible ring can become your reliable contraception choice. It works based on the same principle as combined oral contraceptives. It blocks ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus, providing comprehensive protection against unwanted pregnancy.

    The vaginal ring is an excellent option for women who can’t take COCs because of gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea) that reduce the effectiveness of the pills. The method is also suitable for those who don’t want to worry about contraception on a daily basis. You just need to remember to take a week-long break 21 days after the ring is inserted.

    This contraception method is convenient because a woman can insert and remove the ring on her own as easily as a tampon.

    Usually, the partner doesn’t feel the vaginal contraceptive ring, but if there is any discomfort, it can be temporarily removed. The vaginal ring effectiveness is maintained for up to 3 hours after the ring has been taken out.

    Will your menstrual cycle cease when using a vaginal ring?

    Hormone fluctuations, mature follicle formation, ovulation, and endometrium build-up that take place during a menstrual cycle, are all aimed at conception. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, the process is reset by menstruation, and then it starts again. When a woman inserts a contraceptive ring into her vagina, her natural menstrual cycle is interrupted. The synthetic hormones mimic the effect of naturally occurring estrogen and progesterone, but their levels are stable and don’t fluctuate, as they do during a regular cycle.

    As a result, follicle development and ovulation don’t occur, and there is no mid-cycle hormone peak. Therefore, when using the ring, the menstrual cycle stops, but the term “hormonal contraceptive cycle” can be used instead. Menstrual-like bleeding, which occurs every month during the 7 days that the ring is removed for, is actually not a real period.

    It’s the body’s response to changes in the hormone level. If the ring is not removed, the level will stay the same and menstrual-like bleeding will not occur.

    Thus, we can say that the conventional periods come to a halt.

    History of updates

    Current version (14 April 2020)

    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (30 August 2018)

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