When to start NuvaRing?
September 16, 2011 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Birth control filter: is my NuvaRing timing okay?

So, I've been off birth control for about 14 months (I had previously used the pill for a few years and then the ring for a few years). I recently started the ring again, but I'm concerned about the timing. According to the NuvaRing website, the ring can be inserted on the first day of your period, and then it works immediately. Otherwise, you can put it in on days 2-5, but then you have to wait a week to have unprotected sex.

My periods, when not on birth control, tend to be pretty long (maybe 10 days) and far apart (every 5-6 weeks). They usually start out very light-- just a tiny bit of dark brown spotting which lasts for a couple of days, and then the normal bright red blood for the rest of the time. I put in my new ring on the 2nd day of this dark brown blood, assuming it was the 2nd day of my period. I did see some bright red blood at one point, but now it's back to just a teensy bit of the dark brown, or nothing at all.

I'm worried that this isn't my period at all. I do have a little cramping and had a hormonal headache a few days ago, so it does seem normal, but... I'm worried about the ring not being effective when it should be. Is it safe to have sex a week after putting the ring in? Should we wait a month?

Perhaps this question can't be answered on here, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Why not just use a condom for the first month, so you're sure?
posted by troublesome at 9:20 AM on September 16, 2011

I'm a little confused... are you asking about the very first time you put the ring in? Or subsequent times?

I don't know about all the period stuff you are talking about. My doctor recommended a slightly different schedule than the NuvaRing package says - I leave it in for 4 weeks, out for 4 days. There's really no "okay now it's the (maybe?) 2nd day of my period, I guess I should put it in?" stuff. Just use the calendar, ignore whatever is going on down there at the time. You are protected from pregnancy ALL the time, not just when the ring is actually in, except for that week when you put in your very first ring ever.
posted by coupdefoudre at 9:25 AM on September 16, 2011

It sounds like you are asking how long you need to use an alternate contraceptive method. This handout from a clinic says seven days in your case (see "quick start").
posted by coolsara at 9:33 AM on September 16, 2011

Though I work in reproductive heath, I am not your or a reproductive healthcare provider. However: just like birth control pills, patch, etc., Nuvarings take a week to be effective, at most. Use a back-up method (abstinence! condoms! non-pregnancy-causing forms of sex) for seven days, then you're protected from pregnancy to the full power of the Nuvaring.

Part of the reasoning behind the "start at x time of your cycle," I've been told, is so you're less likely to have breakthrough bleeding/spotting around the time that you'd normally have your period. You align the timing of your fake period (withdrawal bleeding from the Nuvaring) and your real period so it's a little easier on your body as you get used to the hormones.

Seven days of using a back-up method, then the Nuvaring is effective. If you're nervous about asking the Internet, call your doctor or nurse!
posted by verbyournouns at 10:59 AM on September 16, 2011

the way the Nuvaring works is that it secretes hormones fooling your body into thinking it's pregnant, and thus you don't ovulate. If you start it at the beginning of your cycle is that at that point you can effectively prevent yourself from ovulating that cycle, whereas obviously later in the month, if you start it mid cycle you may not prevent ovulation, and then there might be a chance of getting pregnant depending on your timing of sex and timing of ovulation. Having sex during the first week of the cycle is unlikely to result in pregnancy even if you're not using birth control, so this is why the ring "works immediately" - if you are on the ring for the entire cycle, you never ovulate that cycle.

But the bottom line is that you don't have to start it exactly at the moment your period starts for it to be effective that month, and if you wait a week to have unprotected intercourse, you should be all set.

Generally in terms of how your "cycle day 1" is defined or the first day of your period, it's generally accepted that a little spotting on the toilet paper is not enough, cycle day 1 is the first day where you have actual flow requiring a pad or a tampon. You can use that as a guide. IANYD.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:09 PM on September 16, 2011

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