‘The pill’ remains one of the most commonly used methods of birth control for women, but other non-permanent birth control methods, including vaginal rings, are gaining in popularity. Brand name NuvaRing is a convenient device that can be placed in the vagina for three weeks out of the month. During this time, it releases low doses of female hormones into the body, just as the pill does. These hormones help prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus in order to prevent pregnancy.
Since birth control pills and NuvaRing both work in the same way to prevent pregnancy, many women may wonder which option is better for them. There’s no clear ‘best choice’, and the right option for each individual will come down to a number of factors. However, you can look at how NuvaRing and the pill compare in terms of method of use, effectiveness, side effects, and cost in order to make a more informed decision.
NuvaRing Vaginal Ring Contraceptive
Birth control pills come in packs of 28 (a four-week supply) and must be taken on a daily basis, as close as possible to the same time every day. The only time when this dosage schedule is not as important is during the fourth week, when the pills in the packet do not contain any hormones. These pills are simply included as reminders, and missing them will not increase your likelihood of becoming pregnant.
The NuvaRing is a small, flexible ring that stays in the vagina for three weeks out of the month and is removed during the fourth week (when you should get your period). After the end of the fourth week, a new NuvaRing is inserted. It does not need to be removed during vaginal intercourse, and most women say they don’t notice it when it’s in place.
NuvaRing and birth control pills are comparable in their effectiveness. Both have less than a 1% failure rate when used correctly, or approximately a 9% failure rate when not always used as directed (e.g. occasionally forgetting a pill or failing to replace your NuvaRing after a month).
If you have trouble remembering to take the pill on a daily basis, the NuvaRing may be the better option, since ‘correct usage’ simply involves removing the ring after three weeks and replacing it at the end of the fourth week.
Because both NuvaRing and the pill contain female sex hormones, they have similar effects on the body. The most commonly reported side effects include nausea, spotting (i.e. light bleeding) between periods, and breast tenderness. These side effects usually go away within the first few months of using either form of birth control.
In some rare cases, NuvaRing has been reported to cause vaginal irritation or increased vaginal discharge. Different hormone-based birth control drugs will affect women differently, so if you find that one medication is causing unpleasant side effects, you should talk to your doctor about trying another option.
The price of birth control pills can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the brand name, pharmacy location, and patient’s insurance. The cash price for one 28-pill packet can be anywhere from about $9 for a generic to $160+ for certain brand names.
The cash price for NuvaRing is usually around $140-$160 for one ring. When factoring in insurance, Planned Parenthood estimates that NuvaRing costs around $0-$80 per month. It’s important to note that NuvaRing is only available as a brand name drug, so it’s not possible to reduce the price by choosing a generic equivalent.
If cost is a deciding factor for you, you may be able to save by using a coupon for NuvaRing or an oral contraceptive. By eliminating cost as a concern, you can focus on choosing the form of birth control that’s best for your health and lifestyle.