Contraception
 
Vaginal ring
 
What is it?
•    The vaginal ring is one of the hormonal contraceptive methods.
•    It’s a clear plastic ring that is inserted into a woman’s vagina and that releases hormones.

 
How does it work?
•    It prevents pregnancy by releasing low doses of hormones similar to those contained in the contraceptive Pill (hyperlien).
•    These hormones prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, thicken the cervical mucous, making it harder for sperm to travel, and thin the uterine lining, making it harder for a fertilized egg to attach.
•    The vaginal ring is inserted for 21 days. It must then be removed for seven days to allow for menstruation. At the end of these seven days, a new ring must be inserted.
•    The vaginal ring must be prescribed by a doctor. In Québec, it may be prescribed by a nurse for a period of six months in accordance with a collective prescription for hormonal contraception.
•    It is not necessarily recommended for teenagers.

 
How is it used?
•    The ring must be inserted into your vagina manually.
•    After washing your hands, get into a comfortable position and place the ring between your fingers, bending it in two and sliding it into your vagina. To make things easier, you can use a tampon applicator after first removing the tampon.
•    If you feel any discomfort after inserting it, try to push it farther in. Don’t worry about inserting it too far or losing it, because your vagina is an enclosed space.
•    The exact position of the ring in your vagina isn’t important because the hormones the ring releases are what provide the contraceptive effect.

 
Advantages

•    This is an effective and reversible contraceptive method; after its use, a woman quickly becomes fertile again.
•    Intercourse is possible at any time with no risk of pregnancy, which promotes spontaneity. However, after removing a ring for seven days, remember to insert a new one! A vaginal ring does not protect against the transmission of STIs or HIV.
•    It can help regulate periods and make them less heavy and painful.
•    There is less risk of forgetting this form of birth control than with the contraceptive Pill because it doesn't require taking a pill each day.
•    Its benefits are similar to those of the Pill.

 
Disadvantages
•    You may forget to insert a new ring after the seven days off.
•    You need to know your body and become adept at inserting the ring into your vagina.
•    The ring does not protect against STIs or HIV.
•    You need to have enough money to buy the ring each month.
•    The vaginal ring may cause side effects similar to those of the contraceptive Pill. The most frequent include: headache, nausea, vaginal discharge, vaginal infection and weight gain. If you experience any symptoms, consult your doctor.
•    The vaginal ring is often contraindicated in women who cannot take the Pill for medical reasons.
•    The effectiveness of the vaginal ring may be lowered when taken with certain medications or natural products. Get the right information from your doctor or pharmacist.
•    Beware of cigarettes: Cigarettes and the vaginal ring don’t mix (health risks).

 
Cost and effectiveness
•    Cost: $25 per month (covered by the RAMQ and private insurance)
•    Effectiveness: 98 to 99% effective when properly used
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