The NuvaRing is a birth control option that is as effective as oral contraception, but you don’t have to remember to take it every day in order to get a full month’s protection. You insert the NuvaRing into your vagina (personal comfort guides placement), remove it after 3 weeks, and insert a new ring no later than 7 days after removal. The flexible ring is about two inches in diameter and releases a continuous flow of low dose hormones to prevent pregnancy. Clearly you will have to carefully track the 3 weeks from time of insertion and then make sure you replace it in a timely fashion for it to be highly effective.
The most common problems with NuvaRing include:
- Vaginal infections/irritations
- Vaginal secretions
- Weight gain
You should not use NuvaRing if:
- You have a history of heart disease
- You have a history of blood clots
- You have complicated diabetes
- You have a history of breast cancer
- You have a history of liver disease
And if you smoke, recently gave birth, recently miscarried or had an abortion, are breastfeeding or take any other medications, you should consult with your doctor to see if the Nuvaring is an optimal choice of birth control. For more information, check out www.nuvaring.com.
Another hormone-based option of birth control is Norplant. It consists of six flexible capsules that contain progesterone hormones. The capsules are implanted in the upper arm under the skin, and are effective for five years. It is reversible contraception, meaning that once removed, a woman’s fertility will return to baseline. Removal of the capsules can be more uncomfortable than insertion because the capsules can break or fragment as they are being removed. A doctor removes the cylinders at the end of the five-year period and can replace them with new ones, or you can decide to switch methods or plan a pregnancy. Side effects are similar to any hormone-based contraception, with prolonged spotting or bleeding as the primary complaint.
A final contraceptive method to consider is the IUD, a small device that is inserted through the cervix and placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the type chosen, IUDs can last from 1-10 years. They are not noticeable during intercourse and work by changing the lining of the fallopian tubes and uterus so that fertilization of the egg by sperm does not occur. IUDs have a track record of 99.2-99.9% effectiveness. Insertion of an IUD is typically done during menstruation, when the cervix is a bit open and the procedure usually takes about 5-15 minutes. If a woman experiences cramping during or after insertion she can get relief from ibuprofen. The IUD has strings that hang down so you can periodically check your IUD.
IUDs are not recommended for women who are at risk for PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), have compromised immune response, an abnormal pap smear, heart disease, anemia, a history of severe menstrual cramping and heavy flow, a history of ectopic pregnancy, or previous problems with an IUD. If you have a copper allergy then you cannot use the ParaGard. The Mirena IUD releases small amounts of synthetic progesterone hormone. Getting pregnant in the presence of an IUD can increase the risk of a miscarriage or premature birth.
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Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”