A new vaginal contraceptive ring is now available in Australia on prescription from your doctor.
The device is a soft, plastic ring, 55mm wide, which is inserted in the vagina each month like a tampon. It is worn for 3 weeks and then removed for 1 week, during which time the period occurs. The ring can also be replaced after 3 weeks to skip a period.
The ring releases oestrogen and progestogen like the contraceptive pill but in lower doses. The hormones are absorbed into the bloodstream through the vaginal wall and work mainly by preventing the release of eggs from the ovary.
Effective and well tolerated
The contraceptive ring is as effective as the Pill. With correct use, it is about 99% effective and starts to work within about 7 days.
Most women cannot feel the ring when it is in place and most of their partners are not aware of it during intercourse.
The contraceptive ring can cause similar side effects to the Pill such as vaginal discharge, nausea, acne and headache. It does not usually cause weight gain. As with the Pill, there is a slight increase in the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
The vagina holds the ring securely in place and expulsion is rare. It is usually due to not placing the ring high enough initially.
The ring provides very good control of the menstrual cycle and spotting is uncommon. Bleeding is usually lighter and shorter.
The ring is not suitable for women who are unable to use the Pill for medical reasons, such as a past blood clot or smokers over 35 years. However, it is an alternative for women who dislike taking a daily pill or for those who forget to take them regularly.
Ask your GP for more details or visit www.fpa.net.au.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.