There have been some pretty alarming reports about the NuvaRing swirling around the Internet this week. The NuvaRing is a form of hormonal contraceptive delivered via a flexible ring which is inserted inside the vagina for three weeks every month.
Serious concerns about the safety of the NuvaRing arose after women who were using the contraceptive, developed serious and sometimes fatal cases of venous thrombosis, commonly referred to as blood clots. Complaints about other health problems associated with the vaginal ring have resulted in over 1300 federal lawsuits have been filed against Merck, the manufacturer of the NuvaRing.
Vanity Fair and Jezebel have both published articles which include some heart-wrenching personal stories and contain some alarming numbers. I was pretty concerned when I read about healthy women suddenly falling ill and sometimes dying from blood clots, that may have been cause by the vaginal ring. Birth control is suppose to provide peace of mind, not freak us out.
Navigating health-related information can be stressful and scary sometimes. Sexual health can be especially tricky, as it’s a tough subject for some people to talk about. This new news about the NuvaRing is concerning and if you’re upset by it, here are a few suggestions that might help put you at ease.
Before we continue, big important disclaimer time. I am an educator, NOT a scientist and definitely NOT a doctor! I’ve sharing information I’ve pulled from sources I trust, but I am in no way, shape or form qualified to give medical advice.
Pieces like the ones written for Vanity Fair are meant to capitalize on emotion. Which doesn’t make them untrue. But personally, I like to do a little more digging and see what else is going on when a story like this emerges. So far I haven’t found enough evidence to condemn or recommend the NuvaRing outright. Like all forms of hormonal contraception, blood clotting is risk factor. According to this study out of Denmark, the risk is higher with the vaginal ring than with the pill...but even then the risk is still less than 1%. I think it’s also worth mentioning that the risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy is higher still. A person's highest risk of developing a blood clot is immediately after pregnancy.
If you’re looking into hormonal contraception, it’s worth checking out your options. Hormonal birth control is available in pill, patch and ring form and different brands use different formulations. Certain types of hormones have been associated with higher instances of complications. Also think about what makes the most sense for your lifestyle. The pill isn't the lower risk option if you forget to take it and wind up unintentionally pregnant. If you're not comfortable with hormonal contraception at all, there are definitely other options to consider.
Hormonal contraception works well for a lot of people, but the risk of complications is higher for people with certain conditions including:
There are also hereditary conditions that increase the likelihood of developing blood clots. Problems from these disorders may not develop unless they’re combined with other risk factors, so definitely let your health practitioner know about your family’s medical history as well. Which reminds me…
If you have concerns about the hormonal contraception or any form of contraception, talk to your doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care provider. You can also chat with someone at your local sexual health center. A medical professional can answer your questions, help you weigh the risks and benefits and explain your birth control options.
Have you heard about the NuvaRing controversy? What are your thoughts? Are you concerned about the risks? Let me know in the comments.