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Want Spontaneity in Your Sex Life: Try Vaginal Ring
To a lay couple in Indian context, contraceptive options speak for condoms, Oral pills or Intra uterine contraceptive device. Other options such as Injectibles are gaining popularity slowly. However in America and Europe a breakthrough contraceptive option has emerged i.e The vaginal ring. It is a form of birth control for women that you can insert internally for three weeks and then remove it to allow a week of menstruation. It is a flexible (non-latex) ring that is discreet, usually undetectable only to the user and allows intercourse to be more spontaneous and relaxed. The vaginal ring also alleviates the worry associated with contraceptives like IUD that the product can ascend up into the uterus as the cervix prevents the ring from getting into the uterus.
How does it work?
For ease of understanding, the vaginal ring works much like regular birth control pills. The mode of action of the vaginal ring is as follows:
- It releases Estrogen and Progestin, the two hormones naturally produced by your body, into the bloodstream, thereby prevents ovulation (an ovary releasing a monthly egg).
- The vaginal ring prevents sperm from entering the uterus by thickening the cervical mucus. Hence providing two step protection.
How effective is it?
When used correctly, the ring is found to be more effective than an oral birth contraceptive pill (99% +). Though you would need to check with a health professional as to its proper use and removal.
When do I start using the ring?
If you are using the ring for the first time, insert the ring between day one and five of your menses, even if you have not finished bleeding. Count the first day of your period as day one. You should use a condom during each act of intercourse for the first seven days during the first ring cycle.
When do I remove the ring?
Remove the ring three weeks after insertion, at approximately the same time of the day, if possible. Place it in the foil envelope in which it was originally packaged and throw away. Contraceptive protection continues throughout the ring-free week. Exactly seven days after removing the old ring, insert a new one. It is recommended that you insert and remove it at the same time of day each month.
Who cannot use the ring?
Woman with high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and migraine headaches with aura or neurological symptoms should not use the ring or consult with your doctor for eligibility.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately.
A - Abdominal pain (severe)
C - Chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood
H - Headache (severe), numbness or weakness in arms or legs
E - Eye problems (vision loss, blurring, flashing lights)
The vaginal ring can benefit a patient in various ways:
- once-a-month birth control (unlike a daily pill)
- Very discreet and private; no one can see it or know that you are wearing it.
- Easily reversible - No waiting period. Ovulation returns quickly when use of the ring is discontinued.
- Like a birth control patch, low dose hormones are continuously and evenly absorbed into the bloodstream, keeping side-effects to a minimum.
- Thickened cervical mucus helps decrease the risk of pelvic inflammatory infections.
- Decreased risk for developing ovarian cysts
- Decreased risk for developing ovarian or endometrial cancer
- Vomiting and diarrhoea should not interfere with the effectiveness of the ring.
- Shorter, lighter periods (decreased risk for developing anaemia)
- Decreased premenstrual symptoms (usually)
Are there any Side-Effects?
Thing to keep in mind is that, it is a form of hormonal contraceptive option and like other forms of birth control methods that contain hormones, there are side-effects to consider when using the vaginal ring. They include:
- Possible weight gain, nausea, vomiting, and/or breast tenderness
- Mood swings
- Spotting between periods
- Possible increased susceptibility to vaginal infections
- Increased menstrual cramping (rare)
More serious side-effects though less common can include:
- an increased risk for developing blood clots in the legs, heart, lungs, or brain
- an increased risk for having a stroke or heart attack
- an increased risk for developing breast cancer
Check with a doctor for the actual percentage of risk. The chance of some serious risks is high if a patient is over 35 and smokes. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular complications and is greater when a woman smokes more than 15 cigarettes daily and increases significantly when a she is also over 35 years of age. Women are advised to quit smoking if they use hormonal contraception in any form.
It's important to discuss the benefits vs the side-effects of the ring with your doctor. Not every patient is a good candidate for the vaginal ring. Together, you and your doctor can determine your best choice for birth control. Hence, make an informed choice to enjoy long term benefits and enjoy marital bliss without worrying about unwanted pregnancy!