Most people have heard of NuvaRing. It’s the birth control that you put in your vagina that protects you from pregnancy for an entire month. But you probably haven’t heard of Annovera – think of it as NuvaRing’s cousin that lasts an entire year! Intrigued? Read on for more info!
How does it work?
Both NuvaRing and Annovera contain estrogen and progesterone – the same hormones that are in traditional birth control pills. They secrete a small amount of hormone each day that gets into the blood stream through the vagina. These hormones prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg each month and as we’ve discussed in the past – no egg, no baby. They also thicken the cervical mucus which prevents sperm from getting where it needs to go.
The main difference between Nuvaring and Annovera is that Annovera contains overall more hormones so that it can last much longer. Though the amount of hormone absorbed by your body each day is about the same for both methods – about 15mcg of estrogen daily which is similar to many low dose birth control pills.
How do you use it?
Both rings are made of flexible silicone that you bend in half and push into your vagina similar to placing a tampon. It’s designed to stay in the vagina for 3 weeks. On the 4th week, you take it out and expect your period. And then the following week you put it back it in (or put in a new ring if you’re using NuvaRing).
Both methods can be used “continuously” meaning you keep the ring in for the full 4 weeks rather than removing it to get your period. This will allow you to skip periods. You just have to remember to put in a new ring at then end of the 4th week if you’re using NuvaRing.
How effective is it?
If used perfectly – meaning you never forget to put a new one in, never take it out for more than 7 days each month, etc – it’s VERY effective – only a 0.3% chance of pregnancy. However, with typical use, it’s more like a 7% chance of pregnancy which is still really great when you remember condoms alone will get you pregnant a whopping 20% of the time!
Anything else you should know?
Common side effects when starting a ring method include: breast soreness, nausea, and irregular bleeding. Though just like the pill, these side effects go away in most people within the first month or so.
It can be kept in during sex but if you’d prefer to remove it, it just has to be replaced within 2 hours. If it’s out longer than that it’s recommended to use a backup method of birth control (like condoms) for the next 7 days.
How do you get it?
Just like most other forms of birth control, it does need to be prescribed by your doctor. So if you’re interested in this method, schedule a visit so you can discuss if this is right for you and get a prescription.
Dr. Quimby is the co-founder of FemEd – a female health education platform that educates females of all ages about their bodies.
She is also a former professor at USC Keck school of Medicine where she led the OBGYN clerkship. She is passionate about education and empowering her patients and her students through knowledge and shared decision making.
She is currently a full time OBGYN at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
Dr. Quimby has received accolades for teaching and leadership. She has been named Top Doctor by both Pasadena and Los Angeles Magazines. She is a regular speaker throughout the community giving talks to both the public and other physicians. She has contributed to LAist, SELF, and several other news media sources.
Her special interests include: preconception counseling and improving sexual health
When she’s not educating the public on all things female health she can be found traveling with her 2 young daughters and ever supportive husband.