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Why I Put a (Nuva)Ring on My Busy College Schedule

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November 16, 2017

We have more birth control options now than ever. With advancing medical technology, scientists have been able to offer effective hormonal birth control in many different methods. One of the most infamous method is the pill.

The advent of the birth control pill as we know it today came from the efforts of activist Margaret Sanger and endocrinologist Gregory Pincus, with contributions to synthetic hormone studies by other scientists. The first oral contraceptive was approved by the FDA in 1957 to treat menstruation issues, then again in 1960 actually as a contraceptive.

Since then, more birth control options have been tested and approved for use, and many aim to reduce human error with the medicine. One of the drawbacks of the standard birth control pill is that a person needs to take a pill every day at the same time for the three-week cycle. For someone like me who sometimes forgets to take my allergy medicine and has a hectic schedule, a daily effort would not be effective for me.

This is what I love about my vaginal ring, aka the NuvaRing. It’s a contraceptive method designed like the pill — a person receives a small dose of estrogen and progestin every day for three to four weeks with a one-week break for a period — but there is no daily maintenance. All I need to do is insert it, make sure it stays in place for a few weeks, then remove it at the same time on the same weekday that I began that cycle.

The ring is also fairly inexpensive compared to other methods like IUDs and implant. Since the clinic I get my NuvaRings from is publicly funded, they are able to offer a sliding pay scale that determines what percentage of the services requested a person has to pay for based on their annual income. As a student, my income is lower than the average adult, so my birth control is more affordable to me.

I have found that the ring works well with my lifestyle. I would have a hard time taking a pill every day at the same time because the usual time markers for taking medicine (wake-up time, meals, bedtime) fluctuate for me on a daily basis. I cannot feel my ring when it is in, so it doesn’t affect me when I am walking, sitting, exercising, or straight-up running to class in the morning.

A grain of salt to consider: even though the ring theoretically has the same effectiveness rate as the pill (99.7 percent), it also has the same real-life effectiveness rate: 92 percent. NuvaRing still has some room for human error because a person has to insert and take out the ring at a consistent time on certain days. Plus, some people choose to take out their ring for sex — that option is totally safe if the ring is inserted again within three hours. With those parameters, there is still room for error. (This is where using a condom as a secondary method of birth control is very useful.)

But I am glad that I chose the ring as my first hormonal birth control method. I feel more at ease knowing that I am protected from pregnancy as long as I stay on my schedule. Plus, my periods are now more predictable and lighter than before, which is a great bonus!

Though I am considering moving on to a long-acting reversible contraceptive (like an IUD or implant) in the near future, the ring has been what I have needed in the past few months. It is easy to maintain on a busy schedule and is fairly affordable.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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