Are there any risks or side effects?
The NuvaRing can cause some side effects though many women tolerate this method of contraception well. Common side effects are listed below. If you ever experience any painful or severe side effects from NuvaRing, you should remove it at least 7 days after you last had sex if you did not use a condom (or use emergency contraception if removed earlier than this), use condoms if you have sex and discuss your options with a nurse or GP.
Common side effects of NuvaRing (affecting 1 in 10 users) include:
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Stomach ache
- Vaginal discharge or infections (like thrush)
- Itching or discomfort in the vagina around the ring
- Headaches or migraines (if you develop migraines whilst using this please see your doctor)
- Mood swings
- Acne (though NuvaRing may also help with acne)
- Pelvic pain or vaginal discharge
- Low sex drive
- Breast tenderness
- Changes to your bleeding pattern
Though weight gain is listed as a potential side effect by the manufacturer this has not been proven in recent studies. For less common and rare side effects of Nuvaring always read the manufacturers leaflet before starting this.
If you get any side effects you should speak to your nurse or GP to check whether it is safe for you to continue this method of contraception
What about blood clots? – like with the combined pill, there is a small risk that using a combined hormonal contraceptive method (like NuvaRing) will increase your chances of getting a blood clot. This risk is slightly higher with NuvaRing than with the lower risk combined pills. If you notice any of the signs of a blood clot (like chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, leg swelling or pain or symptoms of a heart attack or stroke), seek immediate medical attention.
The overall risk of having a blood clot depends upon your personal medical history, and is very small. On average:
- Around 2 out of 10,000 women develop a blood clot in one year, who are not using a combined hormonal contraceptive
- Between 6 and 12 out of 10,000 women develop a blood clot in one year, who are using a combined contraceptive like NuvaRing
Your overall chances of developing a blood clot is higher if you have a family or medical history of blood clots or conditions which increase the risk of blood clots, if you smoke cigarettes, are older or very overweight, or if you have recently given birth or have had surgery.
Are there other risks to using the NuvaRing? – the NuvaRing does not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Only wearing a condom will protect you against STDs. All combined hormonal contraception, including NuvaRing, can slightly increase your risk of developing breast or cervical cancer (though it can reduce your risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancer).
There is also a very small chance that NuvaRing can fall out – or it accidentally expelled from your vagina. This can happen if:
- You don’t insert the ring properly
- You’re removing a tampon
- You’re having sex
- You are constipated
- You have a prolapse of the womb
If the ring is out of your vagina for up to 3 hours, don’t worry, it will still protect you against pregnancy. Rinse the NuvaRing with cold or lukewarm water (never hot), and re-insert it. If the ring is out of your vagina for more than 3 hours, you could be at risk of pregnancy: follow the advice in the information leaflet in your NuvaRing packet.
It is also possible the NuvaRing will break – but this is very rare. If you notice that your ring has broken, take it out and insert a new one as soon as possible. If you had sex during the 7 days before you noticed the broken ring, there is a small chance you could be at risk of pregnancy. Contact your doctor or chemist for emergency contraception or take a pregnancy test to confirm.