Posted: 10/12/2017

NuvaRing vs Birth Control Pills

Contraceptive_methods_vaginal_ring_the_pill

NuvaRing vs Birth Control Pills

 

Other than simply not having sex, there used to be only one option for birth control; a daily oral pill taken at the same time every day. Advancements in medicine have brought about many new forms of birth control, most notably a vaginal ring known by its brand name NuvaRing.

 

The NuvaRing and birth control pills are both hormonal birth control methods. This means they send hormones (estrogen and progestin) to the uterus. This combination of hormones in the uterus creates two very important obstacles to fertilization. The hormones in birth control stop the uterus from releasing an egg and thickens the cervical mucus making it harder for sperm to reach an egg, two very important things in preventing pregnancy.

 

Both forms require usage for three weeks followed by a week off. A pack of birth control pills generally includes 21 active pills with hormones and then 7 placebo pills that are without hormones. The NuvaRing is a flexible ring that is placed inside the uterus for three weeks and then should be taken out during the fourth week. It is during this fourth week (for either method) that the user would get their period.

 

Which is more effective; NuvaRing or Birth Control Pills?

 

Both the NuvaRing and birth control pills are touted as having 99% effectiveness when used correctly. Who's perfect though? The birth control pill requires the user to take it at the same time every day for full effectiveness and the NuvaRing requires that it be replaced the same day every month. But, life happens. How often can an alarm get set for p.m. instead of a.m. on accident?  People get busy. So reality brings the effectiveness of both of these methods down to roughly 91%.  This plays out to roughly 9 out of 100 users getting pregnant each year while using either the pills or ring.

 

What decreases the effectiveness of the birth control pill and NuvaRing?

 

Taking certain medications can negatively affect how well the two birth control options work. Be sure to check how certain drugs react with birth control pills or NuvaRing. If the user is taking certain antibiotics, antifungal medications or seizure medications, they should use a second form of protection such as condoms.  While this is not a very popular fact, having a higher BMI (aka. being overweight) can also decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth controls.

 

The effectiveness of the birth control pill is lowered when a pill is missed. Something else that many users do not consider is that more than 48 hours of vomiting and diarrhea can also decrease the effectiveness of the pill (for example, as caused by illness).

 

The NuvaRing can be made less effective if it is taken out of the uterus for more than 2 consecutive days during the 3 weeks it is supposed to be placed.

 

What are the pros and cons of the NuvaRing vs birth control pills?

 

For some people, not having to remember to take a birth control pill every day is already a huge benefit. Unfortunately, though, some users find placing the ring to be difficult. Some users have experienced problems with the NuvaRing staying in place or complain about needing to take it out during sex due to discomfort or complaints from their partner.  It is definitely something that takes getting used to, while the pill is something that is very easy to administer.

 

Both forms share major benefits. Hormonal birth control can help make menstrual periods lighter and more regular. By skipping the 7 placebo pills or immediately inserting a new ring during the fourth week, a period could be skipped altogether. They also can improve acne, bone thinning, the development of cysts and the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (aka. PMS).

 

The two forms also share some major side effects. Nausea, bleeding and spotting between periods, headaches and sore breasts are among the common side effects of both the NuvaRing and birth control pills. Another unfortunate side effect of hormonal birth control is a decreased desire to have sex. Due to its localized placement, the NuvaRing can also cause increased vaginal wetness.

 

As with trying any new medication, there can be a grace period of 2-3 months where side effects can be expected. If side effects continue after 3 months a doctor should be consulted and changing birth control methods should be considered.

 

Will these birth control methods cause gain weight?

 

There is a common concern that hormonal birth control will cause weight gain. While it has been reported, it is not common.  It is not caused by gaining extra fat but rather is a retention of fluid.  This is a temporary side effect that should go away within 2-3 months. It can also be caused by the specific type of birth control being taken, for example, if it has higher levels of estrogen. A doctor can prescribe an alternate birth control pill or method if desired.

 

How safe is the NuvaRing compared to birth control pills?

 

Both methods are safe. However, safety concerns increase dramatically if the user is a smoker and over the age of 35. In this case, the user should avoid any type of hormonal birth control that includes the hormone estrogen. There are birth control methods that only include the hormone progestin available. A doctor should be consulted if there has been a history of blood clots, breast cancer, heart problems, uncontrolled high blood pressure or very bad diabetes or liver disease.

 

Even though there is a risk of getting pregnant on both methods, taking a birth control pill or having the NuvaRing inserted during early pregnancy will not cause birth defects.

 

Due to its effect on breast milk, it is recommended to wait several weeks after giving birth to resume your birth control method. It can reduce the amount and quality of your breast milk. Wait 6 weeks to start using the NuvaRing and 3 weeks to start taking birth control pills again.

 

Which type of birth control is right for me?

 

With all of these new options, deciding which birth control to use has become a much more complicated and personal decision.  In the past, where someone might have had to endure certain side effects in order to have the confidence that comes with taking birth control now they have the option to try a different form.

 

When switching from the birth control pill to the NuvaRing insert the ring the day after taking any pill in the pack. In order to switch from the NuvaRing to the birth control pills have one day of overlap, taking both methods.

 
By Julie Rosing

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About the HelpRx.info Blog

HelpRx.info is staffed by experts in the prescription medication industry. Get the latest health, medical news and pharmaceutical news that can save you money and allow you to take charge of your healthcare. With frequent updates about the prescription drug industry as well as medicine news, you'll gain an insider look into the industry and learn more about how to get the best price on your prescriptions while not sacrificing quality.

About HelpRx

Our discounts provide you access to negotiated prices on your prescription drugs at your local pharmacy. We can provide these because we're partnered with OptumRx, a BIG pharmacy benefit provider that provides prescription coverage for MILLIONS of people like you.

About ScriptRelief

Script Relief, the creator of the NPSN card and HelpRx discounts, helps consumers save an average of 50%, and up to 75%, off their prescriptions.

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