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Pros & cons to using birth control rings

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vaginal ringsTrying to find the right birth control to fit your personal circumstance can be a bit of a challenge. The days of just taking your doctor’s advice seem to be over, people want to make informed choices and not just go along with whatever.

There are a few main methods of hormonal birth control: birth control pills, birth control patches, birth control rings and birth control IUD’s. Other methods of birth control that do not concern changing hormone levels include condoms and spermicides like spermicidal pessaries. These birth control methods can be used in the moment but if you are looking for very frequent birth control then it’s also best to use a hormonal birth control.

Birth control pills have long been the most popular form of birth control however, IUD’s and vaginal rings are fast catching up and there are some good reasons why”¦.

To read more about using IUD’s take a look at our blog post specifically about why use an IUD. It talks about how IUD’s work and runs through the pros and cons of using IUD’s like Mirena over birth control pills.

Birth control rings are used intra-vaginally but essentially act in the same way as birth control pills do. The fact that you don’t need to take a pill daily makes them a lot more attractive as a method of birth control.

Nuvaring contains two types of hormones. Ethinylestradiol and Etonogestrel. Once the ring is inserted it releases these hormones into the bloodstream. When taking a birth control pill the hormones in the birth control are released into the bloodstream when you swallow the pill and it dissolves inside your digestive tract, like all medicines. A vaginal ring slowly releases these hormones through the walls of the vagina, straight into the bloodstream.

The hormones in birth control rings work in the same way as birth control pills and patches that contain both Estrogen and Progestogen hormones. The combination of hormones work to stop the egg from being released and they also encourage the mucus in the cervix to thicken. Both these functions stop the sperm from getting to the egg and fertilizing it, therefore preventing pregnancy. Like some birth control pills the birth control ring also has some added benefits. Many women say that they experience less menstrual cramps and that the level of menstrual bleeding is reduced. In some cases the hormones also help to increase bone strength and reduce acne. Many women are nervous to start taking hormonal birth control as they are worried about it messing with natural hormone production and are worried about the side effects. There can some small side effects but in general what you get from taking birth control far outweighs the minimal side effects. Taking birth control or using a birth control ring does not stop your body from producing hormones naturally. Your natural production will continue exactly like normal. The birth control just adds specific hormones to manipulate how your body deals with your reproductive organs.

So why would anyone choose to use other methods of birth control over rings like Nuvaring?

Rings do work out more expensive than using birth control pills. This is one of the main reasons why. Also some insurances will cover pills but not rings, it depends on the policy you have. There is a bonus to paying out the extra money though. Birth control pills need to be taken daily and if you are late for a dose or miss a dose completely you can compromise your level of pregnancy protection. Once the ring is inserted into place you do not have to think about birth control for the next three weeks. After 3 weeks you take out the ring, have a week’s break and then insert a new ring. During the weeks break you should get your period, just like you do in between pill packets.

Another reason why many women still prefer birth control pills over Birth control rings is the application method. People are used to taking medicine orally. It’s very normal and not invasive at all. Rings are inserted vaginally so it’s more invasive. Also many women feel strange about using a less conventional method of medication application. If you are worried about inserting the ring then don’t be. It’s very easy to do, does not hurt more than inserting a tampon and once it is in properly you should not be able to feel it for the remainder of the time until you come to take it out. Every month, every woman of reproductive age has to deal with what’s down below. You put in and take out tampons, use sanitary pads or use menstrual cups. There really is no difference in using a vaginal birth control ring.

Here’s a quick comparison of vaginal rings like Nuvaring against the pill and the IUD.

Average price/month based on 1 years use
Rings – $43
Pills – $23
IUD’s – $20
*if you keep Mirena in for the full 5 years it can cost as little as $4.16/month

Application method
Rings – vaginal
Pills – oral
IUD’s – vaginal

How to use
Rings : replaced after 3 weeks
Pills : taken daily
IUD’s : replaced after 5 years

There’s a lot to think about. So, which method of birth control is right for you? Here is some more information on comparing birth control and a handy birth control comparison chart so you can play off pills, patches, rings and IUD’s against each other.

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