My Love Letter to My NuvaRing
Let’s Talk about the Contraception no one Seems to Know About
Birth control pills can be the most annoying and painful drug to take. Instead, I’ve fallen in love with NuvaRing and haven’t shut up about it since.
Disclaimer: Please consult with a healthcare provider to see which method of contraception is right for you.
When I was 15, my period started coming twice a month—thus began my journey with birth control. I took the pill for six months to regularize my periods. While it magically got rid of my teenage acne, it made me depressed. I would fall asleep in class, had an unusually low sex drive for a teenage girl. Ultimately, I didn’t feel like myself. When I stopped taking it, it felt like a weight was finally lifted off my shoulders and I could finally be my real self again.
At 18, a man I was seeing pushed me into taking birth control pills because he refused to use a condom. Scarred by my high school experience with the pill, I opted for what seemed like the most convenient form of birth control, an Intrauterine Device. My gynecologist was the same man who oversaw my mom’s pregnancy with me. This meant he was at the age of retirement by the time I wanted an IUD, a fact I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. He didn’t bother informing me of how painful the insertion was going to be. It felt like something was puncturing my uterus. Despite my high pain tolerance and the desire to pretend like I was feeling well, the pain from the insertion only worsened throughout the day. I had a shock-induced period on my bus ride home and spent the rest of my day bedridden. The next week, my IUD fell out.
What other options were left? My school’s health services provided me with a list: a contraceptive patch you change weekly, a quarterly arm injection, a plastic arm implant or the vaginal ring.
At first glance, I was shocked at the extensive birth control options I had never been told about. Why is our sex-education system so centered around the impractical birth control pill?
I was looking for an option that didn’t rely on me remembering to take it daily and definitely didn’t want a piece of plastic inserted in my arm. The vaginal ring seemed like the best option, and this is where our love story began.
To me, the ring stands at number one because it’s the most practical and least invasive form of birth control for me. It’s basically a ring-shaped tampon you can forget about for three weeks. My partner doesn’t feel it, but if he does, I can take it out for up to three hours without risk. And no—it doesn’t fall out when you take a shit.
NuvaRing also helped me discover my period doesn’t need to be seven days long. In fact, you can skip your period by continuously switching your ring without taking any breaks. The same can even be done with the pill if you just skip the sugar pills. Since that method doesn’t really work for me, I prefer to leave my ring in for 24 days and take it out for four days. My four-day period is short, light and did I mention it is only four days long?
Most importantly, the fact that I only need to change it once a month means that I’m not reminded of my fear of pregnancy every day like I would be if I was taking the pill.
I love the ring because it makes me feel like me! I know birth control hormones can lead to many psychological and physiological changes, but this method has not changed anything about myself.
Still, despite having only heard about good experiences, I have only ever heard about vaginal rings from other users. The only way I ever found out I wasn’t the only NuvaRing user was through drunken endorsement of the drug during bar conversations. This made me realize how important it is for birth control users to discuss their experiences and decrease the stigma around lesser-known contraceptives.
I re-started taking birth control for a man and now I use NuvaRing for myself. Nothing can make me let go of a four-day period. But to discover it, I had to do a lot of independent research.
I hate hearing my girlfriends complain about the pill because they haven’t been informed about other contraceptives. Looking back, I feel as though my high school sexual education barely touched on the birth control options available to us. My first introduction to an alternative like the IUD was through an article in Teen Vogue. I hope kids today are being educated on all the birth control options out there including their dangerous side effects so they can choose the option that best suits their needs.
If you’re looking to explore different birth control options, I highly suggest talking to an OB/GYN. You can easily find one and book an appointment at a CLSC near you.
This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 9, published January 10, 2023.