There are many different forms of birth control, also known as contraception. Many forms of birth control utilize hormonal treatments, but not all of them. The copper IUD (intrauterine device) and condoms are just a couple examples of non-hormonal forms birth control. Hormonal versions of birth control may come in the form of an oral tablet (I.e., “the pill”), IUD, vaginal ring, injections, or implants injected under the skin.
This blog will be focused on the vaginal ring. Birth control rings are small, flexible rings inserted into the vagina and rest near the cervix for prevention of unwanted pregnancy. When ready to be replaced, they are gently removed, and a new ring is inserted to replace it as directed. There are benefits to a birth control ring that many women like, including not having to take a daily pill, not having injections, or not having an implant. It’s a great option for those who want continuous protection with the option of either skipping your period or having a regular period.
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For the longest time, the only vaginal ring available for birth control was the NuvaRing (ethinyl estradiol and etonogestrel). NuvaRing includes both estrogen and progestin, which are both types of hormones. NuvaRing is inserted and replaced once monthly. In 2018, a new vaginal ring for birth control was released, called Annovera. Annovera (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol) also contains a progestin and estrogen but must only be replaced once a year. Until recently, both the NuvaRing and Annovera were only available as Brand Name products. As many people know, brand name usually equates to more expensive. However, in 2019, the first generic NuvaRing was approved. The generic version of the NuvaRing is called EluRyng.
EluRyng is produced by Amneal Pharmaceuticals and contains ethinyl estradiol and etonogestrel, just like the NuvaRing. It is used in the same way as the NuvaRing. EluRyng should be inserted vaginally and removed after 3 weeks. To match your regular cycle, leave the ring out for 7 days and place a new ring after the week without it. If you really prefer not to have a period, it has been found safe to skip your period with the ring by leaving the ring in for four weeks, then immediately replacing it with a new ring after. Pregnancy prevention is no longer reliable beyond four weeks of using one ring according to the prescribing information (see resource 3).
Some of the most common side effects include vaginitis, headache (including migraine), mood changes, abnormal periods, nausea/vomiting, and vaginal discomfort. Women over 35 years old who smoke should not use the birth control ring due to the risk of serious cardiovascular events. If you’re considering the birth control ring, the good news is there is now a generic product available that can help save you money! Talk with your healthcare provider to find out if the ring is right for you.