The First Annual Birth Control

  • By:  Melissa Waddell, WHNP

Enjoy the freedom of Annovera, an easy-to-use annual contraceptive.

A new contraceptive vaginal ring that prevents pregnancy for a year and allows women to have complete control over contraception has just become available in 2020. While the device may become a real convenience for American women, its global impact may be even larger since it will offer women who have little access to pharmacies or electricity for refrigerators the ability to decide when they wish to become pregnant.

Annovera is the name of the first vaginal ring that can be used for a whole year (13 cycles). It is a combination hormonal contraceptive, which means it has more than one kind of hormones. It contains estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) 0.013 mg/day which is one of the lowest daily doses on the market. It also contains a new kind of progesterone called segesterone acetate (0.15 mg/day).

Annovera continuously releases a low stream of these hormones into your vagina, which then enters the bloodstream. These hormones prevent ovulation and change the cervical mucus and the lining of the uterus (endometrium), which can help prevent pregnancy. The ring itself is made of silicone and not latex.

It comes in a small, compact case where you can store it when it is not in your body. Annovera does not need to be refrigerated but keep it away from children, pets, and extreme temperatures. Wash and dry your hands prior to opening the package, then rinse and pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towel before each insertion and after each removal.

The vaginal ring is inserted into the vagina. This can be done while lying down, squatting, or standing with one leg up on the toilet, bathtub, bed, etc. The ring should be inserted as far as possible into the vagina and should not be felt. If the ring feels uncomfortable, it may not have been inserted far enough.

You insert the ring into the vagina between days 2 and 5 of your menstrual cycle. Wear the ring for 21 days and then remove for 7 days. If the ring comes out accidentally, wash and reinsert within 2 hours. If the ring is out of the vagina for more than 2 hours over the course of 21 days, use a backup method such as condoms or spermicide until Annovera has been in the vagina for 7 straight days.

The vaginal ring does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Only condoms and abstinence can prevent those. Annovera vaginal ring can be used with condoms and worn during sexual intercourse. Tampons can also be used with the vaginal ring. If you accidentally leave the ring in the vagina for longer than 21 days, remove it for 7 days and replace for another 21-day cycle.

The most common side effects reported by women taking Annovera were headache/migraine, nausea/vomiting, fungal infections, abdominal pain lower/upper, menstrual cramps, vaginal discharge, urinary tract infections, breast tenderness/pain/discomfort, bleeding irregularities, all less than 1 percent.

Who should not use Annovera? Women over 35 years old who smoke should not use the vaginal ring. Nor should women who have had a blood clot in your legs, lungs, eyes, or arms, had a stroke, heart attack, uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes, have liver disease or breast cancer, or any unexplained vaginal bleeding. This also applies to the birth control pill, patch, and the other vaginal ring.

How do you get the new vaginal ring? Make an appointment with your healthcare provider for an evaluation to make sure you are a candidate. If approved, you will receive a prescription for the ring and take it to your pharmacy. Enjoy the freedom!

Melissa Waddell, WHNP, is a nurse practitioner at Atlantic Ob/Gyn. For information, call 757-463-1234 or visit www.atlanticobgyn.com.

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