1. What is a vaginal ring?
Vaginal ring is a type of hormonal contraception which consists of a flexible, transparent ring which is placed inside the vagina. It releases 2 types of hormones estrogen and progesterone similar to those contained in the combined oral contraceptive pill. The vagina ring is inserted into your vagina and remains in there for 3 weeks. It is then removed for 1 week when which you will have your menses after which a new vaginal ring is inserted.
2. How does the vaginal ring prevent pregnancy?
- Prevents ovulation
- Reduces and thickens the cervical mucus making it more difficult for the sperm to enter the womb.
- Reduces the chance of implantation by making the lining of the womb thin.
3. How effective is the vaginal ring?
When used correctly, it is more than 98% effective in preventing pregnancy.
4. In which woman is this form of contraception not suitable?
- uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes especially with complications.
- History of blood clots in the legs.
- History of stroke, heart attacks, breast cancer, cancer of the womb, active liver and gall bladder disease.
- Have contraindication to taking the hormone estrogen.
- Have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
- You are more than 35 years old and smokes
- Excessively overweight.
- Have weak vaginal muscles that could not hold the vaginal ring.
- Current ovarian, cervical, vaginal or uterine cancer.
5. What are the advantages of the vaginal ring?
- Requires less compliance as you need to replace the ring every month
- Does not interrupt sex
- Reasonable price
- The efficacy of the vaginal ring as a contraception is not affected by vomiting and diarrhea.
- Your menses will be regular, lighter and less painful.
- May help with premenstrual symptoms.
6. What are the disadvantages of the vaginal ring?
- Bleeding in between menses
- Some women may feel uncomfortable inserting and removing the vaginal ring.
- Side effects such as breast tenderness, nausea, headache or mood changes.
7. How is the vaginal ring inserted?
You doctor will advice how to insert the vaginal ring. Using clean fingers, squeeze the ring in between your thumb and fore finger and gently insert it as high up and comfortably as possible into your vagina. If it feels uncomfortable, push the ring higher up into your vagina. Do not worry, the ring will not get lost or gets pushed into your womb as the cervix will block it. If you could not feel the ring, you should see your doctor.
8. Will I or my partner feel the ring?
Occasionally, your partner may feel the ring. It should not be uncomfortable or painful nor will it harm your partner.
9. What if I want to get pregnant?
It is better to wait until the 3 weeks duration of the ring is finished before removing it. However, there is no harm if you removed it earlier.
10. Are there any medications that will reduce the vaginal ring’s efficacy?
- Common antibiotics, certain drugs that treats HIV, tuberculosis and epilepsy.
- Treatment for vaginal thrush does not affect the vaginal ring’s efficacy.
11. How do I get the vaginal ring?
You could ask your doctor – obstetrician or gynaecologist.
Family Planning Association www.fpa.org.uk