NuvaRing Side Effects: All Possible Risks And Disadvantages
In this article, we’ll discuss the side effects of Nuvaring in detail.
What Is NuvaRing?
NuvaRing Generic is the brand name under which a vaginal ring is sold and is a safe and effective form of birth control. The soft, flexible, plastic ring contains hormonal medication that works by preventing ovulation, that is, the release of an egg from your ovary during the menstrual cycle. As a result, the woman is protected from unwanted pregnancy.
NuvaRing is counted among the safest methods of contraception. Most women tolerate the ring favorably. That being said, some side effects may occur during its use. The reasons for the occurrence of these side effects could be related to improper use, the presence of certain underlying conditions, or hormonal imbalances from the composition of the ring.
In this article, we will discuss all the major and minor NuvaRing side effects that can occur in women who use it. This is key to understanding what can go wrong when you use the ring and what steps you can take when that happens.
However, let us first take a look at the mechanism of action of Nuvaring.
How Does NuvaRing Work?
Inserting a NuvaRing into your vagina is a straightforward process. First, you remove the ring from its packet, hold it between your thumb and index finger, and push the edges towards the center. Next, you insert the ring inside the vagina. For this, you can either use the applicator provided by the company or you can simply use your index finger to push the ring in place.
Once positioned properly, the ring begins to slowly release combination hormonal medication, namely etonogestrel (a progestin) and Ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen), into the vaginal canal. From here, these are absorbed through the vaginal walls into the bloodstream and start functioning by the following mechanisms:
- Suppression of ovulation (preventing ovaries from releasing an egg)
- Thickening of cervical mucus to hinder sperm entry into the uterine cavity
- Thinning the endometrial lining to make it non-viable for implantation
Through all these methods, the ring acts to keep you safe from unwanted pregnancy.
Also Read: IUD Vs NuvaRing
NuvaRing Side Effects
NuvaRing use is associated with certain side effects which can be grouped into two sub-headings, major and minor.
Major NuvaRing Side Effects
Major side effects are rare but can be quite serious when they occur. These include:
1. Formation of Blood Clots
Vaginal rings may sometimes lead to the formation of blood clots in arteries and veins. These clots travel through the circulating blood to distant places where they can get lodged and block the blood supply of any organ or tissue. This can result in harmful consequences such as stroke (blockage in the blood supply of the brain).
The tendency to develop clots is more in certain people. Therefore, if you have had a blood clot develop in the past, you should not use NuvaRing and consider taking an alternative form of birth control instead.
2. Hemoptysis (Coughing Up Blood)
Hemoptysis is the medical term for the appearance of blood mixed with sputum. This blood comes up with sudden forceful bouts of cough and is usually bright red.
While the spitting of a small amount of blood or one that happens as a one-off occurrence is rarely a cause for concern, it is always safe to see a doctor nevertheless. In case there is a significant amount of blood loss, or the coughing up of blood doesn’t stop, you should immediately rush to the emergency.
3. Angina (Chest Pain)
Angina is chest pain that is caused by a reduced flow of blood to the heart. Sometimes the pain spreads to the jaw or the shoulder. Sudden chest pain can be an adverse effect of NuvaRing use. If you notice a tightening or heaviness in your chest along with stabbing pain, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
4. Vision Loss or Blurred Vision
Among major side effects, a sudden loss of vision can be very frightening. NuvaRing use can cause partial or complete loss of vision in rare cases. However, this is usually temporary and reversible with immediate medical care.
5. Numbness of Limbs or Other Parts of the Body
Weakness or numbness in one or more limbs can occur post NuvaRing insertion for the first time. More commonly, this occurs on one side of the body. If it involves the face, especially around the lips, it can manifest as slurring of speech and dribbling of saliva from the corners of the mouth.
6. Severe Headache
Sudden and severe splitting headache is another rare complication of the ring. Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as Tylenol might help in most cases, but if they don’t, or if the headache is associated with nausea or dizziness, it is best to visit a doctor.
7. High-grade Fever
Sudden high-grade fever that occurs as an infrequent event and has no other reasonable cause might point to being an ill-effect of NuvaRing insertion. Acetaminophen is the most common as well as the safest OTC medication to treat fever. However, if the fever lasts for longer than a day or is accompanied by other symptoms, it might need medical intervention.
8. Depressive or Suicidal Thoughts
Most hormonal contraceptive methods are known to cause depression in at least some users if not all. Yet, severe depression that burgeons into suicidal or self-harming thoughts occurring requires an immediate visit to a healthcare provider.
Some other major NuvaRing side effects are sudden and severe breathlessness, dark urine, feeling faint, yellowing of the skin, and skin allergies or rashes. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult a doctor to help resolve them.
Minor NuvaRing Side Effects
These are less severe and more common. That doesn’t mean, however, that almost all users will encounter them. In fact, a majority of the women do not notice any side effects at all with NuvaRing use.
Minor side effects include:
1. Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramping is a form of muscular pain in the lower abdominal region during periods. Hormonal birth control methods usually reduce menstrual cramping and irregular menstruation. But in some cases, cramps can occur as a side effect post NuvaRing insertion. As is commonly seen though, this does not last for long and resolves on its own in time.
Also Read: Best Non-Hormonal Birth Control Options
The initial use of any hormonal contraceptive can cause intermittent bleeding through the vagina outside the duration of menstruation. This usually occurs for a few months and subsides on its own. In rare cases, spotting may continue to occur till 6 months after the first insertion of NuvaRing.
It is pertinent to consult your healthcare provider if this happens. You might need to switch to another form of birth control if the ring continues to cause vaginal bleeding.
3. Vaginal Infection
Some studies have shown that the use of NuvaRing might make women susceptible to the risk of vaginal infections. This risk increases with the insertion of the ring without taking care of proper hygiene. Thus, it is essential to follow instructions of use properly and to wash your hands thoroughly before you proceed to put the ring in place inside the vagina.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a very common vaginal infection. It usually occurs as a result of frequent douching or unprotected sexual intercourse. Unhygienic insertion of NuvaRing can also cause this infection. BV is characterized by greyish watery discharge along with itching in the vulval region. There is also a distinct fishy smell.
Yeast infections due to NuvaRing insertion result in cottage-cheese like discharge with a fruity smell.
These and other such infections need to be treated under the care of a medical professional.
Additional NuvaRing side effects include:
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Irritation in the vagina
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Increased risk of cervical cancer
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
To prevent some of these from occurring, you should consult your physician or gynecologist before using NuvaRing.
Factors that Increase the Risk of NuvaRing Side Effects
You are more likely to experience NuvaRing side effects if you have a history of:
- Formation of blood clots (thrombosis)
- Heart attack
- Adverse effects from other forms of hormonal birth control such as oral contraceptive pills or intrauterine devices
For this reason, it is advisable to look for alternative contraceptive methods if you have had any of the above problems in the past.
Although vaginal ring usage is recommended by doctors as a safe and effective form of contraception, in some cases, side effects can occur
This article discusses all the major and minor NuvaRing side effects along with risk factors. Identifying these symptoms will help you to have a deeper understanding of the risks as well as benefits of using NuvaRing and whether or not it is right for you.
January 16, 2021 Sam Bell