The lord of hormonal rings

A hormonal contraceptive ring releases hormones in woman's blood and thus prevents ovulation

A large-scale promotion of hormonal ring, a new innovative method of contraception, kicked off about a year ago all over women's magazines and websites dedicated to beauty and health. The new method was called a breakthrough in contraception. It is easy to use, it contains a low doze of hormones that are released in a continuously and proportional manner. The contraceptive is of topical use, it does not travel along the gastrointestinal way and therefore the number of side-effects is reduced. Besides, a woman should remember to use the contraceptive only once a month.

The hormonal ring is a flexible transparent ring a woman should insert into her vagina and forget about it for three weeks. Once in the vagina, the ring starts to continuously release low concentrations of hormones into blood. The hormones prevent ovulation. The ring is removed after a three-week time. Then the menses come about. A new contraceptive ring is inserted into the vagina a week later. The contraceptive remains effective during the break.

Counter-indications and post-use complications are largely the same as those with oral contraceptives. In fact, the new thing is a low-dose hormonal contraceptive.

The way of “applying” the new contraceptive method gives it a clear advantage. A woman should not take the pill every day, she should not carry a packet of tablets in her purse all the time, she should not panic if she forgot to swallow the tablet or missed the right time for doing so. Besides, hormones do not affect the stomach and liver and overall impact on the whole body is consequently lowered. Some side-effects e.g. nausea, headache are minimized. Besides, the contraceptive remains effective should a woman suddenly have an irresistible urge to vomit or her stomach gets upset all of a sudden. A ring inserted in a correct way does not fall out. A woman can go in for sports including swimming. Men rarely notice the presence of the ring when they have sex with women equipped with the device. Men reportedly have no complaints.

However, there is lots of fears in Russia regarding the new contraceptive method simply because it is new. The hormonal ring first appeared in Russia 18 months ago. Apart from the novelty status, just a handful of women use it so far. In other words, it is a little too early to talk about the 99-percent effectiveness of the method and the lack of side-effects. Besides, fist complaints start coming in. Some women reported aggravations of their chronic infectious diseases e.g. cystitis.

In any case, the ring is a foreign body in the vagina. The mucous membrane tries to reject it. As a result, an inflammation breaks out. Many women reported weight gain. Some said that they had suffered from edema due to water retention in their bodies following the use of hormones.

Gynecologists have a range of opinions on the latest contraceptive method. Some doctors strongly recommend it, others say the method should be used with utmost caution, and some doctors are categorically opposed to the method.

Even the doctors themselves sometimes can not understand how the concentration of hormones is maintained continuously in blood. The manufacturer's leaflet says that a neatly measured dose of hormones is released every day. It is true that the dose is a bit lower than that contained in the low-dose hormonal contraceptives. But how on Earth can they make sure that the dose is really “neatly measured?”

Potential users also want to clarify the issue about individual differences of the vagina mucous membrane to absorb the hormones released by the ring. The concentration of hormones in blood can vary due to different network of capillaries and different absorbing capacity in different areas of the mucous membrane. In the meantime, the problem does not look so scary after closer examination. No doubts about it, every woman has her own inimitable network of blood vessels in the vaginal mucous membrane. However, all women have largely the same average absorbing capacity value. In other words, the concentration in blood is mostly the same despite the individual differences. Besides, daily fluctuations in the concentration of hormones are not so important because the concentration of hormones peaks in blood once the ring is inserted into vagina. The concentration prevents ovulation. Then the concentration gradually goes down in three weeks time.

Despite widespread rumors, no bedsores, calluses or other skin problems develop due to the viganl placement of the ring. Gynecologists say the mucous membrane looks totally undisturbed (the ring is removed prior to examination). Besides, the ring is removed for a week and the mucous membrane normally recovers during the period if there were any “friction” problems.

Not unlike any hormonal contraceptive, the ring can bring out weight gain, the hardening of mammary glands, and smearing bloodlike secretion during the menstrual cycle. Some of the above side-effects go away within 2-3 months of the use of the ring. However, at times women gave up using the contraceptive right away due to disturbing side-effects.

The vaginal ring is yet another hormonal contraceptive remedy and therefore it has a number of advantages and disadvantages. It can be used by women who have permanent partners, but have no chronic infectious diseases whatsoever of the genitourinary system.

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Author`s name Olga Savka