What Are the Disadvantages of the Vaginal Ring?
Because NuvaRing works like the pill, it probably carries the same possible disadvantages.
Possible Side Effects of the Vaginal Ring
Some women may have undesirable side effects while using NuvaRing. But many women adjust to it with few or no problems.
Some of the most common side effects usually clear up after two or three months. They include
- bleeding between periods
- breast tenderness
- nausea and vomiting
NuvaRing may also cause more long-lasting side effects. It may cause increased vaginal discharge, vaginal irritation, or infection. The hormones in NuvaRing may change a woman’s sexual desire.
It’s important that you find a method that won’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable. If you continue to experience side effects after using the vaginal ring for three months, talk with your health care provider.
After ring use is stopped, it usually takes one or two months for a woman’s periods to return to the cycle she had before using it. Once in a while, a woman may have irregular or absent periods. This may go on for as long as six months after stopping. This is more likely if her periods were irregular before using the ring.
Regularly using oil-based medicines in the vagina for yeast infections while the ring is in place may increase the level of hormones released into the blood. This will not reduce the effectiveness of the ring. The effect of using these types of yeast infection medications with the vaginal ring long-term is unknown. Talk with your health care provider if you need long-term treatment for yeast infections while you are using the ring.
Serious Side Effects of the Vaginal Ring
Many women have concerns about the possible risks of taking hormones in birth control. Serious problems do not occur often.
Women who use birth control with estrogen — like NuvaRing —have a slightly greater chance of certain serious problems than nonusers. The most serious — in very rare cases — may be fatal. These include heart attack, stroke, or having a blood clot in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain.
Other rare risks include developing high blood pressure, liver tumors, gallstones, or yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). The risk for these problems increases if you
- are age 35 or older
- are very overweight
- have certain inherited blood-clotting disorders
- have diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- need prolonged bed rest
Serious problems usually have warning signs. Report any of these signs to your health care provider as soon as possible:
- a new lump in your breast
- a sudden very bad headache
- achy soreness in the leg
- aura — seeing bright, flashing zigzag lines, usually before a very bad headache
- bad pain in your abdomen or chest
- headaches that are different, worse, or happen more often than usual
- no period after having a period every month
- trouble breathing
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
The Vaginal Ring and Breast Cancer
You may have heard claims linking the hormones in the vaginal ring to breast cancer. The most recent literature suggests that the use of these hormones in birth control has little, if any, effect on the risk of developing breast cancer.
See the insert from NuvaRing for more information about possible side effects.