NuvaRing is a vaginal birth control ring. According to Planned Parenthood, NuvaRing prevents pregnancy by secreting estrogen and progestin, the same hormones used in many oral contraceptives. The ring is used every month and remains in the vagina for three weeks. After one ring-free week, a new ring is inserted. NuvaRing is convenient, but it does have potential side effects.
Breast tenderness is a common side effect of most contraceptives, because of the estrogen and progestin released by the medication, and it is one of the top three side effects reported by women who use NuvaRing. However, in April 2008, a study in Therapeutics and Risk Management reported that breast tenderness among NuvaRing users tends to be lower than that among women who use oral contraceptives.
Another common side effect of many hormonal contraceptives is spotting, or bleeding between periods. Planned Parenthood lists spotting between periods as another of the top three side effects reported by NuvaRing users. However, Planned Parenthood also reports that in most cases, spotting goes away after a few months of continuous use.
The last of the three most commonly reported side effects of NuvaRing is nausea. Planned Parenthood reports that nausea and vomiting associated with NuvaRing use usually goes away after the first two to three months. The study in Therapeutics and Risk Management reports that nausea associated with NuvaRing is not as severe as that associated with other hormonal contraceptives for women.
Some women who use NuvaRing report changes in their vaginal discharge. Therapeutics and Risk Management reports that the incidence of vaginal discomfort and increased discharge is higher in women who use NuvaRing over those who use oral contraceptives. This is possibly because the ring is situated in the vagina itself. Planned Parenthood reports that increased vaginal discharge, unlike many of the other common side effects, tends to be a long-lasting side effect of NuvaRing.
Most hormonal contraceptives have the potential to cause some weight gain. This is listed as another of NuvaRing's common side effects. A study in the June 2007 issue of the journal Contraception reported weight gain in NuvaRing users to be about the same as women who used oral contraceptives. However, the study in Therapeutics and Risk Management reported a slightly higher weight gain in women using NuvaRing. Most of the women in both studies, including those on other hormonal contraceptives, lost the gained weight after a short period of time.
A more serious side effect of any hormonal contraceptive containing estrogen, including NuvaRing, is an increased risk of vascular problems. According to Planned Parenthood, these problems are not common. However, they are quite serious. Vascular side effects of NuvaRing use include a higher risk of developing blood clots, or having a heart attack and/or stroke. Any potential symptoms of these complications should be given immediate medical attention.