One of the primary concerns of developed and developing economies is population management. And in order to accomplish the task of controlling the population within manageable limits, government institutions encourage the general public to employ various forms of contraception. Couples have several choices among barrier, hormonal, and intrauterine methods. They have different levels of efficacy and possess certain side effects when used. But one of the newest forms of contraceptives introduced to the public is the vaginal ring contraceptive. This paper explores on the different methods of use and benefits of this contraceptive.
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Vaginal Contraceptive Ring: A Novel Method of Contraception
Introduction and History
It is essential for a growing economy to sustain the needs of its people. Therefore, a manageable population would allow the government to provide better resource allocation to its citizens, thereby improving the quality of life the people deserve. In order to accomplish this task of maintaining the population size within acceptable bounds, people are encouraged to subject themselves in family planning. One of the integral components of this program is the use several kinds of contraceptives or birth control methods. These devices, set of behavior, or medicines are used for the deliberate prevention of impregnation. They are utilized for the reduction of probabilities of a successful fertilization, where a male sperm is supposed to meet the female ovum (Birth Control, 2005, paragraph 1).
One of the contraceptives currently gaining significant popularity is the Vaginal Contraceptive Ring. This is a ring inserted into the woman’s vagina in order to administer the appropriate hormones to prevent the occurrence of pregnancy. It has higher levels of effectiveness compared to traditional contraceptive devices, therefore it is gradually gaining acceptance from the general public.
The use of vaginal drugs is found to have existed as far back as the Middle Ages. This administration route is already used for delivering hormones during postmenopausal ages, where cocaine and other forms of recreation drugs were reported to have been used. Other diseases treated through vaginal drug administration include hyperprolactinoma, to which bromocriptine is administered. People have found that this route of administration is more effective in comparison to oral administration. Recent studies reveal that the drug misoprostol that induces labor has a higher efficacy when administered through vaginal delivery instead of oral administration. Another example is the indoemthacin drug used to stop preterm labor. Again it is more effective when vaginally administered (Nelson, 2008, paragraph 8).
Vaginal Administration Route
A novel form of contraception available for women is the Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (VCR). It is a of medication administered to a sexually active women, where the ring is inserted into the woman’s vagina. The vagina has the ability to secure the delivery of drugs into an individual’s system. In its lower portion, a nerve supply located at the periphery has high sensitivity towards pain, while the upper portion contains nerves that the autonomic nervous system supplies. This enables the insertion of the device into the vagina’s upper portion with being felt. In addition, the vaginal surface area is enhanced by its rugae, thereby increasing the area for drug absorption. These rugae structures enable to the vagina to undergo expansion during intercourse while allowing contraceptive device placement without the disadvantage of trauma. Moreover, the vagina has a natural defense system that protects the individual from the threats of bacterial invasion (Veres et al., 2004, p. 555; Fraser et al., 1999, p. 1974; Nelson, 2008, paragraphs 1-5).
Vaginal Contraceptive Ring
The vaginal contraceptive ring is also popularly called the NuvaRing (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2008, paragraph 1). It is a device that is convenient to use with high rates of effectiveness according to individuals using it. Experts have found that this contraceptive has the ability to prevent the risk of impregnation up to more than 99% (Veres et al., 2004, p. 555; Roumen et al., 2001, p. 469;Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2008, paragraph 1).
The NuvaRing is a two-inch diameter ring made of vinyl polymer, that functions in delivering hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in consistent and minimal amounts. It approximately delivers ethinyl estradiol at a dose of 15 micrograms and etonogestrel in 120 micrograms (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring: Introduction, 2006). These drugs primarily function in halting the process of fertilization, during which the egg from the ovary is supposed to meet the motile male spermatozoa. With these hormones, the cervical mucus thickens, thereby preventing the penetration of the sperm into the reproductive tract, resulting in a prevented pregnancy (Roumen et al., 2001, p. 469; Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006, paragraph 1).
Using the Ring
The initial use of this contraceptive is commonly started on the “first five days of the menstrual period” (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 20086 paragraph 5). During the first seven days, the couples are encouraged to use another birth control method to have a concerted effect with the ring. An example is the condom. It is only after the first week that the couple is assured of the ring’s effectiveness in reducing the risk of pregnancy. An individual ring is typically used for a period of three weeks, after which it is removed for seven days. During this one week, the woman experiences the start of her menstrual period. After the week of the ring’s removal, a new one is inserted again in place of the older ring (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006, paragraph 5).
Ring insertion into the vagina is a relatively convenient procedure, as it does not require a specific way to accomplish. Regardless of the ring’s exact position, the contraceptive will properly work as long as it stays inside the vagina. In the event that the ring accidentally moves towards the opening of the woman’s vagina, the woman will become aware of the ring’s presence inside her. The individual can simply push the ring back into its original position. During sexual intercourse, the woman could simply leave the ring inside her vagina. However, if it causes her discomfort, it can be temporarily removed, but it is important to replace the ring within three hours (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006, paragraph 6).
In removing the contraceptive ring, the woman can hook her finger underneath the ring and simply pull it towards the opening until it is released. It is important to place the ring again inside its pouch packaging for proper waste disposal. There is a possibility that the ring will slip without manual assistance, however such occurrences are uncommon. In addition, weak pelvic floor muscles among women increases this probability. Other contributing factors that can potentially remove the ring accidentally include constipation and sexual intercourse. In the event that the ring does slip out, it is important for the woman to rinse the ring using lukewarm water and to reinsert it immediately (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006, paragraph 7).
Benefits and Side Effects
Although using the NuvaRing is highly beneficial and effective in preventing pregnancy, it does not have the ability to provide the woman protection against HIV infection or against different sexually transmitted diseases. But it offers tremendous benefits to women who would choose the ring to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It is a hormonal contraceptive that also promotes regularity of a woman’s menstrual cycle decreases menstruation-associated discomfort such as cramping. One of the conveniences this contraceptive offers is that it no longer requires a woman to take medical pills daily. It also enhances an individual’s complexion and reduces the incidences of “anemia, ovarian cysts and benign breast masses” (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006 paragraph 2). This also reduces the ovarian and uterine lining cancer and it does not increase the risks of a woman acquiring breast cancer. Although the ring prevents impregnation, it does not however make conceiving more difficult in the future. (Veres et al., 2004, p. 555; Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006, paragraph 2).
In using the ring, the woman may experience certain discomfort during the initial stages of her use. But these side effects are found to not harm the woman’s health. In cases that such manifestations persist, it is important for the individual to discuss the case with her physician. Hormonal related discomfort include “headache, nausea, breast pain, or mood changes,” (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006, paragraph 3) while other vaginal related annoyances include “irritation, or an increase in vaginal discharge (Veres et al., 2004, p. 555; Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006, paragraph 3).
Contraindication and Appropriate Population
Women with certain health complications are recommended to prevent or discontinue the use of the NuvaRing. Health conditions include vascular problems that result in cardiac and thromboembolic diseases, breast cancer and liver diseases. This contraceptive is also not encouraged for the consumption of women who smoke and are more than 35 years old (NuvaRing – A Combination of Hormonal Contraceptive Vaginal Ring, 2006).
Although this novel form of contraception has different side effects and does not have the ability to protect an individual from sexually transmitted infections, it is still an effective method to prevent pregnancy with associated health and physical benefits. NuvaRing is a relatively new method, but its administration is proven to be effective and safe, as it is found to prevent pregnancy 99% at a time. Therefore, it is a very promising device, and when use in concert with another birth control device, the couple is assured of a highly effective pregnancy prevention program (Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, 2006).
- “Birth Control.” (2005). Contraception.com. Retrieved March 13, 2008
- Fraser, I. S., Lahteenmaki, P., Elomaa, K., Lacarra, M., Mishell, D. R., Alvarez, F., Brache, V., Weisberg, E., Hickey, M., Mallentine, P. and Nash, H. A. (1999). Variations in vaginal epithelial surface appearance determined by colposcopic inspection in healthy sexually active women.” Human Reproduction 14(8):1974-1978.
- Nelson, A. L. “The Vagina: New Options for the Administration of Medication.” (2008). Medscape. Retrieved March 13, 2008
- “NuvaRing – A Combination of Hormonal Contraceptive Vaginal Ring.” (2006).
- University Health Sciences of the University of Texas at Austin.
- Roumen, F. J. M. E., Apter, D., Mulders, T. M. T., and Dieben, T. O. M. (2001).
- “Efficacy, tolerability and acceptability of a novel contraceptive vaginal ring releasing etonogestrel and ethinyl oestradiol. Human Reproduction 16(3): 469-475.
- “Vaginal Contraceptive Ring.” (2006). University of Oregon Health Center.