Good news for NuvaRing users. A small study found that ring use is well tolerated and may have a beneficial effect on vaginal health:
The ring was well tolerated; the few genital symptoms reported were generally scored as mild and their incidence was similar to that reported with OC [oral contraceptive] use, with the exception of vaginal wetness.
Increased vaginal wetness was reported with 2.74-fold incidence...in ring users compared with those using OCs (ring, 63% vs OCs, 43%). "Women who reported more vaginal wetness did not differ on laboratory findings from women who did not report this symptom," the authors note.
Laboratory findings showed that the concentration of Lactobacillus colony-forming units positive for hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) also significantly increased during ring use....
The researcher's conclusion:
"This study provides some reassurance that an increase in vaginal wetness reported by a woman using the combination vaginal ring most likely does not represent pathology," the authors write, adding that increased H2O2-producing Lactobacillus concentrations may even indicate a favorable effect on vaginal health by preventing viral and bacterial infections.
A 1992 study also found that using a vaginal ring continuously (up to two months) didn't cause unfavorable changes in the vagina.
This is important information for women who use the ring for menstrual management. Why? Because when you use the ring to skip the fake period, you use a continuous regimen--the ring remains in place for months at a time. In other words, you insert the ring into the vagina and leave it in for either 3 or 4 weeks (twenty-eight days). After that, you remove it and throw it out. Then you replace the old ring, immediately, with a new one. There is no ring-free week between the old and the new ring. You continue to do this for 2-3 months. At the end of that interval you stop using the ring for 7 days (you'll have the fake period during these 7 ring-free days).
In an ongoing extended-wear study, women have been using the vaginal ring (replacing it every 3 weeks) continuously for six weeks, twelve weeks, and twelve months. Preliminary results should be available by the end of the year.*
*Aarts JM, Miller L. Design of an open-label, randomized, multicenter trial of continuous regimens with NuvaRing. Obstet Gynecol. 2003;101(45):145.