Contraceptive Vaginal Ring
What It's For & How To Take
The contraceptive vaginal ring is a hormonal contraceptive birth control. This combination pill pack may sometimes be used to regulate the menstrual cycle, decrease your chance of ovarian cysts, decrease blood loss, help with painful periods or treat acne. If you are using this medication for a reason not discussed here, talk about it with your doctor.
This medication is a combination of two different female hormones, estrogen and progestin. All the 28-day combination packs have a varying dose of an estrogen and progestin. Your specific dose combination is based on many factors that you will discuss with your doctor.
By maintaining a moderately constant level of hormones in your body, the surge of hormones around ovulation is avoided and an egg is not released. This therapy also thickens the vaginal secretions making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg. This medication affects the lining of the uterus, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall.
To insert the ring, first, wash and dry your hands, then open the foil pouch and remove the ring. Save the pouch so you can use it for proper disposal of the ring. Fold the ring in half and gently insert it into your vagina. When the ring is placed properly, you shouldn’t feel it in place, and it will not interfere with sex. However, your partner may feel it. The exact location of the ring in the vagina is not important if it stays securely inside your vagina.
After 21 days with the ring in place, you will remove it at about the same time of day you put it in. If you have any trouble removing the ring, or if it is painful, notify your doctor immediately. After 7 days without a ring, insert another ring at about the same time of day you removed the previous ring the week before. Do not go more than 7 days without inserting a new ring
Unless directed otherwise by your doctor, insert your ring on the first day of your menstrual cycle. You should begin your period sometime during the fourth week of your cycle, which is your ring-free week. Begin your next 28-day cycle without missing a day regardless of whether you have started your period. If you do not start your period, call your doctor. You may use tampons at the same time you have the vaginal ring in.
A missed dose is considered whenever the ring is removed for 3 hours or more, if you delay starting a new ring by 24 hours, or if you leave a ring in for more than 28 days. Find your medication package paperwork and locate the exact instructions that explain what to do when you miss a dose. Cut out this section and put it in your wallet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain these instructions if you do not understand them.
Most Important Warnings
- Do not use this medication if you smoke cigarettes or any other tobacco products and are over 35 years old. Smoking cigarettes while taking this medication increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots and high blood pressure. This risk significantly increases if you are over the age of 35 years old.
- Hormonal contraception does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
Warnings & Cautions
- Do not use birth control pills if you are pregnant, might be pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you are taking this medication and think you might be pregnant, talk with your doctor right away.
- When starting this therapy, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom or spermicide for the first 7 days while the medication is building up in your system.
- If you are ever unsure what to do about a missed dose, use a back-up contraception method, such as a condom or spermicidal gel, anytime you have sex. Continue your normal dosage until you contact your healthcare provider for instructions. Discuss the possibility of emergency contraception for any unprotected sex.
- While using hormonal birth control, it is possible that your skin may develop dark patches. Sun exposure may make this worse. Avoid prolonged sun exposure and tanning booths. Use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when necessary.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if your contraceptive vaginal ring is safe for you to use.
- Taking other medications may decrease the effectiveness of your birth control and lead to an unintended pregnancy. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don't take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current or past health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any circulation issues, heart, thyroid, diabetes, liver, blood clots, cancer, incomplete miscarriage, abortion, mental disease, or any other medical condition you have experienced.
- While using your contraceptive vaginal ring, you may feel some nausea, headache, bloating or dizziness. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- If you experience any significant changes in vaginal bleeding, problems wearing contact lenses, unwanted facial hair, dark patches on your skin, significant weight change, or if you miss your period, contact your doctor to talk about it.
- Call your doctor right away if you feel a severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or balance, an increase in depression, swelling in your body or any breast lumps.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.