Go go little ring
September 9, 2010 10:15 PM   Subscribe

Nuvaring with absolutely no side effects: am I just lucky, or could I possibly not be absorbing the hormones correctly?

Rationally I know this is probably crazy crazytalk. I just need a sanity check before I go through with my LONG (long, long) -awaited first sex without a condom. (So far I've used condoms exclusively, for more than a decade.)

It's been in for a week; I know it's in correctly (I feel its little edge when I check, and it's nice and secure behind the pubic bone).

Ration tells me the answer is that I'm just lucky (and/or that I will have side effects of some kind, just sometime in the future). I know all the side-effect reports I've seen are way biased towards bad (since people with bad effects are much more inspired to write about them). But I was so prepared to face bad effects that, irrationally, it feels like if nothing bad is happening, the reason could be that the Nuvaring isn't functioning.

You are not my doctor (and I trust the doctor who prescribed this anyway). I just feel like crowdsourcing my reassurance on this one.
posted by sparrows to Health & Fitness (26 answers total)
I do not have Nuvaring, but I have had no side effects from hormonal birth control. So... there's one anecdote for you!

Many, many more people have minimal or no side effects than have lots. It's not like you put the batteries in wrong. You're good, really.
posted by brainmouse at 10:21 PM on September 9, 2010

Nuvaring definitely has less (read: essentially no) side effects for me as compared to other hormonal bc. I'm a big fan.

All hormonal bc can take some time to start being effective though; as long as your doc has told you you've waited long enough, I'd expect you're good to go.
posted by nat at 10:24 PM on September 9, 2010

hmmmmm, most people I know who use the Nuvaring feel it is the best thing since sliced bread. some people have side effects, but most do not. As far as I've heard, much less side effects with nuvaring than with BC pills. Enjoy!
posted by Lylo at 10:24 PM on September 9, 2010

I've been on the Nuvaring for, I think, three years now. I've never experienced any kind side effect from it....or pregnancy!

I was previously on the patch, and then before that the pill. I never experienced any side effects with those either.

But of course, YMMV.
posted by Squee at 10:25 PM on September 9, 2010

Many people who have side effects are just adjusting to the new hormones floating around and they tend to even out within the first 3 cycles. That said, I used it for 5 years with zero side effects.
posted by girlstyle at 10:27 PM on September 9, 2010

I have had no noticeable side effects from hormonal birth control (not nuvaring) other than a little gradual weight gain, and I have a friend who used nuvaring for quite some time who did not experience any side effects. To reassure your paranoid-self, I would make sure you've left it in long enough for it to start working, which it sounds like you have since it's been in for a week, though I would check the literature provided with it/ask your doctor just to make sure. Enjoy your condom-free sexytimes!
posted by you zombitch at 10:51 PM on September 9, 2010

When I went on Nuvaring the only side effect I thought I noticed (and my best friend said she also felt the same way) was that I was hungry. Like all the time. Other than that I was fine.
posted by magnetsphere at 11:12 PM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all the responses so far!

p.s. omg, magnetsphere, that is funny because I did notice feeling REALLY hungry this week but didn't imagine a connection with Nuvaring. I will keep an eye on that. :) If that turns out to be my worst side effect I will be a very happy girl.
posted by sparrows at 11:48 PM on September 9, 2010

Yet another, "No side effects ever, ever!" response.
posted by mustard seeds at 11:51 PM on September 9, 2010

4 years on Nuvaring with no side effects or pregnancies here!
posted by kiripin at 12:19 AM on September 10, 2010

I was on Nuvaring for a couple short stretches and I had a little annoying spotting after a couple months (although I did manage to forget and leave the first one in an extra week) and some concurrent blahs which I don't know if they were BC-related or Pittsburgh winter-related. I never really stayed on it for very long, but that was not related to the Nuvaring itself.

Otherwise, things were pretty hunky-dory! It also seemed to kick my period into not-stupid (I used to have approximately a 21/22-day cycle with with periods that would last for a solid week), which was EXTRA BONUS.
posted by that girl at 12:32 AM on September 10, 2010

Nuvaring for three years here, no side effects at all, and baby-free. It is very low dose, so it's not that surprising, yet very nice. I know many many others who have also experienced no side effects with it.

Still check with your doctor how long you should give it before going without condoms. For first time hormonal BC, a full cycle is often suggested. Or maybe that was just my doctor telling me that. So check with your own doc on that one.
posted by copperbleu at 12:33 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you have side effects with pill-form hormonal birth control? Not everyone has noticeable side effects with that either :) But even if you do, it wouldn't be too surprising if you had fewer side effects with the ring. In addition to being low-dose, the point of the nuvaring is that it releases the relevant hormones locally, rather than spreading as much through your whole system.
posted by heyforfour at 4:54 AM on September 10, 2010

Used NR with no side effects (& no baby) for a few years, until it ended up making me peri-menopausal. My estrogen levels crashed, hot flashes, night sweats, horrible mood swings, and general loss of sanity. After a couple months off NR- back to normal. Thought it might have been a fluke, so I went back on it a year and change later. Within 2 months, I was having all the same problems again. Have my fingers crossed that YMMV.
posted by East Siberian patchbelly wrangler at 6:58 AM on September 10, 2010

Have you done the pill or other hormonal birth contol before? It's not really like a switch. It might take months to notice side effects. I generally liked the ring but over the course of numerous cycles I noticed ways it was effecting me - some positive, some negative. For me, a low libido was what caused me to eventually give it up even though the clear skin and very even moods were great.

If this is your first time with something like this, just check in with your doc about any concerns you have.
posted by amanda at 8:26 AM on September 10, 2010

I've been on 3 differnt birth controll pills (due to insurance coverage changes) constantly over the past 7 years and have never had any negative side effects. I think the internet might be scaring you because like you said, people are most likely to write about problems rather than pop into a discussion forum to say "I'm good!" Some people (sound like you me and a bunch of other commenters here) are really just that lucky!
posted by WeekendJen at 8:41 AM on September 10, 2010

No side effects here!

(except maybe a slight increase in hair shedding when I stopped using it, but that corrected itself within a month or so.)
posted by Everydayville at 8:41 AM on September 10, 2010

I would say during the first 3-6 months I was completely side-effect free (and the BC-side of the Nuvaring always worked, which seems the most important thing, right?).

Nuvaring did have (relatively bad) side effects for me, but it took a long time until they showed up, and they showed up sooo slowly that only in retrospect I noticed that they were actually connected to the ring. I do not feel comfortable discussing them here, suffice it to say that I would not recommend Nuvaring anymore. For me, it was not better than other hormonal BC, in fact, it was worse. Leaving in the Nuvaring during intercourse never actually worked for me/us, so in our case, it wasn't really more "romantic" (heh) than condoms...But of course YMMV.

And it has to be said: If Nuvaring works for you as advertised, it's a damn good thing, because it's hassle-free and you can't forget to take it. I liked that. So it's probably worth trying, and if you notice anything out of the ordinary, you can switch back to condoms.

(Keep in mind that your OB/gyn might discount your problems as "definitely not related to the Nuvaring" or "imaginary" - OB/gyns are strange that way. If you think Nuvaring, or any other hormonal BC, isn't good for you, please ditch it and see whether the problem goes away! I wish I had thought of that sooner and not trusted my OB/Gyn so blindly.)
posted by The Toad at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2010

Nuvaring did have (relatively bad) side effects for me, but it took a long time until they showed up, and they showed up sooo slowly that only in retrospect I noticed that they were actually connected to the ring.

This was also my experience -- after an absolutely trouble-free year-and-a-half or so. Then it slowly became a waking nightmare.

Of course this might not be your experience at all -- plenty of people do just fine with it -- but if things go inexplicably emotionally or physically awry for any of you Nuvaring users out there, do consider taking a break for a month or two to assess. In my case, improvement was noticeable within days of removing it.

(But yeah, no babies.)
posted by bunji at 9:05 AM on September 10, 2010

I've been using the NuvaRing for ~5 years now. I'd never used hormonal birth control before.

I had nausea and spotting for my first couple of weeks. After that, everything was hunky-dory. My moods evened out significantly and I can actually do stuff when I have my period. No pregnancy either, so it's definitely doing its job.

As long as the ring is in your vagina and you're using a new one every 4 weeks, it will work as advertised.
posted by giraffe at 9:44 AM on September 10, 2010

I've used three different hormonal birth control methods before my current one (not NR though). I quit the first three due to side effects. My current pill has no side effects. It's one of those things that varies with each body.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:50 AM on September 10, 2010

It's been years since I've been on hormonal birth control (almost always a triphasic to combat my acne). Never had much in the way of side effects as far as I can remember, but they also didn't really help my acne either.

Since I started on Nuvaring last month, the side effects have been almost nil and the ones I am having are great. Higher sex drive, better orgasms, minor increase in breast size. The only thing I don't like is the random cramping. A couple times a day I'll get what feels like a menstrual cramp but it only lasts for 15 seconds or so. From what I can tell this is just my body getting used to the extra hormones. If it doesn't ease up in another month or two then I'll ask my doctor about it, but it's not bothersome enough to stop using it.

I'll admit I'm incredibly curious about the bad, late term side effects other Mefites have had.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:04 PM on September 10, 2010

i am not on nuvaring, but have friends who think it's awesome. i'm on another BC that has ended up relatively side effect-free for the most part.

a note here, though: one week isn't long enough to tell whether you're having side effects. one of the side effects of my current BC was spotting. that took awhile to show up and a little while to go away. just pay attention. you will probably notice differences around period time too, for better or worse.
posted by itsacover at 8:03 PM on September 10, 2010

I had some side effects from the Nuvaring (spotting, some mood swings) but that was after about 2-3 months, not a week. You'll be fine! Trust me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:50 PM on September 10, 2010

As a side note, for anyone finding this thread in the future. When I started the ring I was with this awesome university health center doctor who was kind of a hippie but obviously had ferried thousands of women though the birth control process. She was a great source of sound and founded advice. She researched and listened and was a really great woman to have on your side. She took all concerns seriously and did not foster any feelings of shame or embarrassment around sexual health.

When I started on the ring she let me know that it could be removed for a few hours at a time with no change to its effectiveness. So, if I wanted to take it out during sex, totally fine. I rarely kept it in during sex but the few times I did, my partner said he couldn't really feel it. Obviously everyone's body is different but I just didn't like the thought of it in there. I would keep the resealable packet that it came in... take it out before sex, rinse it and put it in the packet. Rinse it again and return after. Occasionally, I would forget and go to sleep. Then I'd use a backup method or abstain for a week.

Contrarily, my gyno that I saw later was very "by the book" and was surprised when I took it out for my annual exam for about an hour total. But, then again, she also claimed surprise when I said that one of my reasons for discontinuing was low libido. She said she'd never heard of that. Um, really? So... you know, I don't totally trust her to be realistic. I do trust her to read the manufacturers instructions and follow them to the letter. In fact, we once had a conversation about various methods effectiveness and she pulled out a reference book and then ended up agreeing with my take on them.

Just a little note that if this is one of the things you don't like about the ring to try to have a conversation that gets to this with your GP or gyno. Docs often just want to give you letter of the law and nothing more (covers their butt but isn't always the best for patients).
posted by amanda at 10:44 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Actually, it's a persistent myth -- so persistent that even some medical professionals believe and repeat it, and unfortunately it gets repeated all over forums like this one -- that Nuvaring can be removed for a few hours whenever you want (e.g., whenever you have sex) without its effectiveness being compromised.

That is not what the mfr says (and they will very explicitly say that's not the case, if you contact them directly and ask). Their product insert, due to somewhat unclear language, could be assumed to imply that. But what the insert actually says is that if the ring accidentally happens to come out, you can reinsert it and use it if it's been out for less than 3 hours.

It's not safe to remove Nuvaring whenever you want; multiple extended removals per cycle definitely could compromise its effectiveness. Please spread the word if you hear your friends saying this (because people are still saying it all over the place).

I'm still going, btw, without any bad side effects, although a few expected minor ones have started.
posted by sparrows at 6:21 PM on January 26, 2011

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