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NuvaRing Side Effects: Is it Too New?

By HERWriter
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Taking a class on women’s health and bodies, I was struck by a simple phrase repeatedly emphasized by my professor: “new drugs are new.” Her tone was cautionary, meaning to illustrate that while scientific advancement for women’s health is fantastically important, the creation of new drugs means that women are using products with unknown long-term side effects. New medicines and hypotheses, even those enhancing women’s lives, are minimally tested and offered to the public without full information.

Nothing illustrated this course concept better to me than my own experience with the relatively new birth control method, NuvaRing.

After almost two years of happy ring-use and shorter, lighter periods, fewer cramps, improved acne, a convenient and cheap method of remaining fetus-free – I began to recognize some strange changes in my body and wonder whether they could be related to the NuvaRing.

Through my class, I learned more about how hormones suppress biological menstrual cycles, tricking your body into thinking its “a little pregnant all the time.” Due to the combination of estrogen and progestin in the Ring, just like the Pill, this birth control gives you a false period and actually prevents ovulation. (Good for preventing pregnancy, bad for maintaining the organic nature of your body.) However, even though it provides a lower dosage of hormones than the Pill, the NuvaRing secretes chemicals more directly into your vaginal lining, targeting a very sensitive part of the woman’s body.

I no longer wanted to have sex – perhaps partly due to a decreased interest in my current partner– but more, it seemed, a symptom of pharmaceutical interference. When I did have sex it generally hurt. I found myself crying uncharacteristically for no reason throughout the month and I had several yeast infections!

I was sure NuvaRing was no longer the birth control for me, but it wasn’t until I stopped using it that I became fully aware of the negative impact of hormones on my body. Left without a period for 18 months, I realized the drug had long-term as well as temporary effects, and wondered what else NuvaRing had altered besides my menstrual cycle.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Wow, sounds like an interesting class! I hope you will write more articles about what you learned from this professor--sounds like you go to a really progressive college!

April 9, 2010 - 9:55pm
EmpowHER Guest

Wow. Good to know. I had considred using NuvaRing, but after reading this.. I'm not so sure. I think I'll wait until more research is done. Besides, I'm not big on tweaking my body's natural order with man-made hormones.

If you want a good alternative to hormonal birth control, FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) is the way to go. Yes, it requires more from women than just popping a pill but once you get to know your body & your cycles, it works. I have been fetus free for over 6 years. And should I decide I want a child, I'm all set to know when it would be a good time to try.

April 2, 2010 - 8:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

This whole notion of the public in general of playing the dumb, "I didn't know or realize" card is getting old. If anyone thinks that there aren't some side effects to ANY drug whether prescription or not, they are naive and ignorant not to mention uneducated. Every drug affects every individual person differently. Does anyone actually read the Package Insert (PI) that comes with every prescription? Most likely not and then they claim, "why didn't anyone tell me"? Grow up, educate yourself and read the PI. It will tell you every side effect and contraindication of the drug as well as studies, etc. Stop blaming the pharmaceutical companies for your lack of common sense! To the poster of the article, you are correct, there aren't many contraceptive methods out there without hormones. The ones that do exist have enormous irregular, heavy and unpredictable bleeding. It's a matter of what your priorities are.
Some women don't mind the bleeding. It's not becoming a mainstream concept that a woman doesn't need to have a "monthly period" while on contraception. This is because as you mentioned it's really not a period. The bleeding is a result of hormone withdrawl. No matter the side effects (which are minimal compared to most pills), having a once a month method is much more convenient than having to remember to take a pill everyday. Of the 50%+ of the "unplanned pregnancies" in the US every year (which make up over 50% of total pregnancies by the way), over 50% of those are results of women who are ON THE PILL! Over 50% of the unplanned pregnancies-already on birth control! Unreal. The reason for this staggering number is due to the reliance on compliance of taking a pill everyday. Only a very small percentage of women actually take it daily at the same time which is the only way to ensure 98% efficacy of preventing pregnancy. Women these days are too busy. It's not 1955 anymore. Nuvaring isn't systemic so it doesn't have to pass through the body which is a big advantage for women who can't take pills for whatever reason. I hope this helps answer some questions for people. Just remember, just because a drug might affect you in one way doesn't mean it's bad and will affect everyone the same way and for that reason people should be careful with what they say and the advice they think they are giving to others.

April 2, 2010 - 12:50pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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